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Full text of "Brahmoism; or, History of reformed Hinduism from its origin in 1830, under Rajah Mohun Roy, to the present time. With a particular account of Babu Keshub Chunder Sen's connection with the movement"

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10 and 12 Det Street. 

London: 44 Fleet Street. 







Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1884, by 


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D. C. 


These papers embody the substance of lectures de- 
livered in various places in India, both in Urdu and in 
English, and their publication here and circulation here 
and in India, is likely to dispel the clouds of misapprehen- 
sion and morbid sentimentalism which stand in the way 
of genuine Christian progress. Their rambling character, 
and a good deal of the repetition by which they are 
disfigured, will find, in the opinion of the indulgent 
reader, a justification in the fact that they were written 
at different times and under diverse circumstances. 
Three of them— the second, the third, and the fifth — 
have appeared as articles in the Indian Evangelical 
Review, and the sixth as such in one of the periodicals 
in this country. They are published in the shape of a 
volume, in the hope that they may receive favorable con- 
sideration, in the hands especially of those well-meaning 
Christian men and women whose reverence for the Brah- 
mo religion — if religion a series of shifting beliefs can be 
called — is due to imperfect acquaintance with its dogmas 
and principles ; and with a view to show cause why we, 
Christian missionaries, ^cannot hold out the right hand 
of fellowship to its champions without a glaring com- 
promise of principle and very culpable betrayal of the 
interests of the truth intrusted to us. 

Ram Chandra Bose. 

May 20, 1884. 




Introductory Remarks 7 

The Adi Somaj 83 

The Progressive Somaj 61 

The Progressive Somaj Continued 86 

The New Dispensation 110 

The New Dispensation Continued 140 

Sadharan Brahmo Somaj 168 

Rajah Ram Mohun Roy as a Hymnologist 193 

The Aspirations op Young India 207 




Brahmoism cannot with any shadow of propriety be 
called a new religion. Regarded, however, as a novel 
form of faith, its champions need not blush to see it 
placed in juxtaposition with the two moral creations of 
the nineteenth century which may with some degree 
of propriety be called new religions. These are, stated 
in the chronological order in which they have de- 
veloped, Mormonism and Comtism. 

Mormonism was established in the year 1830, the 
very year which witnessed the birth of the Brahmo 
Sabha in Calcutta, by Joseph Smith, generally called 
Joe Smith, a man devoid of education, but obviously 
possessed of qualities fitted to make him a leader among 
certain classes of people, evincing a character in which 
we see an odd mixture of credulity and cunning. By 
a series of visions, revelations, and angelophanies he 
was led to discover and translate a strange book, pur- 
porting to embody a connected and coherent history of 
America since the confusion of tongues at Babel, and 
to confer upon that book the pre-eminence in relation to 
the varied books of the Bible which had been given to 
the Koran by Mohammed long before his birth. To 


the fanciful narratives thus disinterred by him he added 
a series of revelations as occasions arose ; and in this 
way he elaborated a system of theology of the most 
grotesque character, and a system of morality of a de- 
grading type. 

The theology of Mormonism is an odd mixture of 
pantheism, materialism, and hero-worship of a mytho- 
logical, idolatrous, not Carlylish type. It begins with 
"an infinite quantity of self -existing matter," and 
evolves from " the union" of " two" of its " element- 
ary particles" a God who cannot possibly exist apart 
from a human body, and who ' ' eats and drinks and 
loves and hates." The process of evolution it indicates 
is very slow indeed. The particles after an incalculably 
long period of self -development become a man of fee- 
ble powers, which, however, expand as he grows in 
knowledge till, instead of a human being of limited 
capacities, is seen a God of enlarged intelligence and 
potencies. He goes on improving now, and will go on 
improving throughout eternity, in knowledge and 
power, and therefore he is not now and never will be 
infinite in knowledge and power. It is maintained, as 
a corollary from this position, that every man living is 
a God in embryo, and may in process of time attain 
knowledge and power enough to create and rule a 
world. There has, moreover, been a succession of 
Gods — God the Father being God of Adam, Adam 
being God of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ being God of 
Joe Smith, and Joe Smith being God of us poor mor- 
tals. Is there no eternal and abiding principle to which 
the homage both of gods and men is due ? Yes : that 
principle is Truth, which has appeared, does and will 
appear, in endless varieties of forms. 

Mormonism upholds a sort of trinitarianism amid the 


hosts of its gods emanating, at various times, from an 
interminable heap of intelligent and self -moving matter 
by a slow process of evolution. It brings forward 
what may be called a double trinity, one ancient and 
one modern. The modern trinity consists of two em- 
bodied Gods, the Father and the Son, and one intellect- 
ual principle of union and action, the Holy Spirit, who 
exhibits divine power and wisdom when on account of 
corporeal limitations the Father and Son cannot act. 
But the modern trinity is the facsimile of another, the 
ancient trinity consisting of Jehovah, Elohim, and 
Michael, who was Adam. Hence Adam's superiority 
to Christ ! 

Mormonism upholds the doctrines of universal salva- 
tion, but the glimpses it presents of heavenly felicity 
are in grossness and sensuality scarcely surpassed by 
the views of Paradise embodied in Mohammedanism. 
In heaven they marry and are given in marriage ; and 
the most favored of the Latter-day Saints expect to 
have in heaven harems as full at least as those they are 
compelled to leave behind for a time when they go out 
of this world. And besides, they settle by nice calcula- 
tions the number of acres they are to have, each of 
them, around his palatial residence in heaven, to im- 
prove by tillage and adorn by art. One good feature 
of their community, unremitting toil proceeding from 
or sustained by admirable habits of industry, is perhaps 
the only redeeming feature of their grossly sensual de- 
scriptions of heavenly bliss. 

Such is one of the two great creations of the nine- 
teenth century in the department of religion, briefly 
and very imperfectly sketched ! Joe Smith and his 
associates had the effrontery to believe that this heap 
of oddity, eccentricity, extravagance, and contradiction 


would in time supplant the glorious faith of the Chris- 
tian Church ! It is impossible to say which of the two 
things — the grotesque religion he initiated or the gro- 
tesque hope he entertained — brings out his universally 
acknowledged mental aberration with the greater 

But now we come to the second of the two great 
religious innovations, inventions rather, of the cen- 
tury. Auguste Comte was born a few years earlier 
than the date which witnessed the birth of the founder 
of Mormonism ; and there is intellectually that differ- 
ence between the two which subsists between a giant 
and a pigmy. A man of wonderful versatility and 
wonderful attainments, he seemed fitted to communi- 
cate a new impetus to the spirit of scientific inquiry 
and philosophic thought. And if he only had the 
patience of thought and calmness of intellect, without 
which great discoveries in the region of science and 
philosophy cannot be made, he would have left behind 
him something more permanent, though perhaps less 
brilliant, than the crude, hasty, and ill-digested specu- 
lations with which his name is associated. About 
fifteen years after Joe Smith had laid the foundation 
of his execrable creed, Comte fell over head and ears in 
love with the wife of a galley-slave, and discovered 
that he had a heart which needed something more than 
cold, philosophic abstraction. A religion appeared to 
the enamored philosopher a necessity, and a religion he 
had no difficulty whatever in evolving out of his fertile 
brain. The first problem was how and where to find a 
God, for even Comte could not but conclude that a 
religion without a God would be something like an 
institution without its vitalizing principle. He solved 
this vexed question by calling attention to what he was 


pleased to call " the Collective Humanity," an abstrac- 
tion indeed when we take a retrospective view of the 
history of the world, but appearing in a concrete form 
in the generations to come, in posterity. This new 
Supreme Spirit should be called Posthumous Humanity, 
but as it embraces the nonentities of the past as well 
as the realities of the present and the embryos point- 
ing to the future, it may be designated by the name 
of Collective Humanity. But why, it may be asked, 
call it Collective Humanity, when from the sum-total 
human beings are excluded whose business is merely 
" to digest food and manure the earth " ? But there is, 
after all, no impropriety, as useful animals, such as 
" horses, dogs, oxen, etc.," are brought in to make up 
the complement of the number required ! 

But is not a visible symbol of the invisible deity 
needed to bolster up pious feeling and devotional 
enthusiasm ? Comte therefore had to look for an 
appropriate symbol, and he had not happily far to go. 
What could be better fitted to draw the soul naturally 
apathetic out into a stream of passionate devotion than 
the beautiful Madonnas in the great cathedrals of his 
own and neighboring countries ? A lovely woman of 
about thirty with a lovely infant son in her arms — 
what can be a better symbol of the genius of humanity 
than such a person ? But such a symbol is not always 
within reach for purposes of private worship, and 
therefore a man should daily prostrate himself in mute 
adoration before his mother as representing the past, 
his wife as representing the present, and his daughter 
as representing the future. The mother, the wife, and 
the daughter form the trinity of Comtism, and the 
three feelings stimulated by their worship are venera- 
tion, attachment, and kindness. This caricature of 


worship accompanied with caricatures of the sacra- 
ments and feasts of the Eomish Church, all under the 
absolute control of a hierarchy of savcmts, presided 
over by a supreme pontiff of philosophy, is the religion 
of Auguste Comte. That it was entertained for a 
moment by such a man as Comte ; that it did not 
perish with him, but has, on the contrary, found advo- 
cates among men of education in civilized countries — 
this is a proof of the oft-repeated truth that when 
men presumptuously cast aside the light that is in 
them they are judicially given over to fatuity and 

What a relief to turn from these grotesque and ex- 
travagant types of faith to the religion of the Brahmo 
Somaj, which upholds a creed insufficient indeed, and 
to some extent erroneous, but by no means associated 
with eccentricities of such glaring character ! Its 
superiority is to be traced to a variety of reasons, some 
of which it is desirable to point out. And, first of all, 
it is desirable to mention the good sense with which 
the champions of Brahmoism have recognized some of 
those truths which may justly be called intuitive. 
Mormons and Comtists are drawn into the region of 
oddities and eccentricities, intellectual aberrations and 
religious tomfooleries, because they declare war against 
their moral nature, and presumptuously cast aside its 
primary beliefs. They extinguish the flickering lamp 
of truth in their hearts, and grope in a darkness of 
their own creation. Hence the facility with which 
they literally make fools of themselves or become 
laughing-stocks to all sensible men ! The Brahmos, 
with commendable good sense, avoid the rock on which 
not only their faith, but even that which makes them 
rational beings is wrecked. They accept the funda- 


mental truths of religion on the testimony of their 
moral consciousness, as they believe in the objectivity 
of the material world on the testimony of the senses, 
superadded perhaps to this testimony. 

Like the thoughtful Kant, they cannot play either 
with " the starry heavens" or with their own " sense 
of responsibility." They instinctively believe in the 
existence of a God, not an inscrutable force, an imper- 
sonal first cause, or a being of Hmited power though 
boundless good- will, but a personal Deity of unerring 
wisdom and hmitless power, holy and full of love, just 
and merciful. They recognize our duty, not merely to 
express faith in the existence of such a Being and then 
quietly shelve Him, but to love and serve Him, and 
allow Him to regulate our life and conversation. They 
believe in a distinction between right and wrong, essen- 
tial, eternal, and immutable, not merely one created by 
society for its convenience and therefore changeable as 
its emergencies. They believe, in short, in an un- 
changeable and imperative law of righteousness, ema- 
nating from God Himself, and bearing therefore the 
impress as well of His authority as of His glorious 
attributes. They believe in a future state of rewards 
and punishments, wherein the moral anomalies noticed 
in this life will be rectified, and the balance of justice 
restored. They believe in our free agency, and in the 
fact that our happiness and misery here and hereafter 
hang upon our relation to God and our attitude toward 
His perfect law. In a word, they believe in all the 
doctrines and principles of which simple naturalism or 
the religion of nature consists ; and therefore they 
have truth on their side as far as they go, though cer- 
tainly not unmixed with error. Hence the immense 
superiority of their faith over the extravagant creeds 


which rear their superstructures on the ruins, so to 
speak, of the instinctive beliefs of humanity. 

Their faith, in the second place, indicates a progress 
from darkness to light, not vice versa. The Mormons 
and Comtists shut their eyes to the Sun of Eighteous- 
ness and commence a retrograde move from a good 
toward a bad faith. No wonder they get entangled in 
ludicrous error and add madness to folly ! The Brah- 
mos, on the contrary, move from a degenerate toward 
a better faith. Their system may justly be character- 
ized as a reform. It may be regarded as an attempt to 
revive the ancient faith of the country, of which its 
modern manifestation may in one sense be represented 
as a miserable caricature ; or it may be regarded as an 
attempt to supplant the national faith by a system of 
eclecticism transferred wholesale from lands more 
enlightened than our own, or modified and accommo- 
dated to the moral exigencies of the country. But in 
either of these aspects it is a move in the right direc- 
tion, inasmuch as it is evident that that national faith 
is so corrupt in its nature and disastrous in its conse- 
quences that almost any departure from it, excepting, 
of course, such as land us in the absurdities embodied 
in Mormonism and Comtism, indicates genuine prog- 

Again, it should be remembered that Brahmoism has 
had from the very beginning a larger amount of moral 
earnestness than either of the two systems, which 
may in one sense be represented as its rivals. Mor- 
monism was originated by a man whose mind, weak 
and ill-balanced, was a prey to visions and revelations, 
and who, like Mohammed, certainly did add a great 
deal of low cunning to the exuberance of fanaticism 
characteristic of his impulsive nature. For a time it 


showed earnestness enough to make progress in spite of 
a series of persecutions — cruel, brutal, and most as- 
suredly unworthy of a country which is emphatically 
the home of political freedom and religious toleration — 
but the earnestness it displayed had more of the deter- 
mined spirit of worldliness in it than of godliness and 
piety. Since the martyrdom of its founder, Mormon- 
ism has degenerated into a vice or nuisance ; and what- 
ever earnestness it now shows is hellish and conse- 
quently of an execrable type. Comtism has at times 
been doubtless associated with what is called the 
enthusiasm of humanity, but as a system of religion it 
has never appealed to any portion of our nature higher 
than the aesthetic. Brahmoism has from the beginning 
been a religion of a purer stamp, and it has manifested 
commendable earnestness in adopting and assimilating 
purer types of worship, and introducing moral reforms 
of, on the whole, a desirable character. It is un- 
doubtedly true that it has had official patronage enough 
to cripple its vitality, and that if it had been persecuted 
as Mormonism was during the first few years of its 
existence, it would perhaps have been nipped in the 
bud. But some degree of earnestness of a right type it 
has shown, as a matter of fact, and its obvious superi- 
ority over the other two systems is partially to be 
traced to it. 

And, lastly, the superiority of Brahmoism must be 
ascribed partly to the superiority in a religious point 
of view of the community directly benefited by it over 
those influenced by the two rival creeds. Though 
frivolous on the whole, our educated countrymen are 
not so ludicrously senseless as the peoples swayed by 
the naked absurdities of Joe Smith or Auguste Comte. 
A grotesque creed might very easily be spread among 


the uneducated masses of our countrymen. But, 
thanks to English education, such a creed, if intro- 
duced among those who form the upper ten thousand, 
would have no chance whatever of considerable or per- 
manent success. A god incapable of living except in a 
body with possibilities of infinite progress before him, 
or an abstract idea worshipped in the shape of a beau- 
tiful woman with a lovely child in her arms, would be 
laughed off the stage by them. A few among them 
are Comtists, but they are followers of Comte's English 
disciples, who, while they adopted his philosophy and 
his classification of the sciences, laugh at his religion as 
an indication of his dotage. 

The champions of Brahmoism need not, we repeat, 
blush to see their system alongside of the religions of 
the age, to which the term ' ' novel ' ' may with a deal 
of propriety be applied, along, of course, with the ex- 
pression generally associated with it, ' i queer. ' ' Brah- 
moism is one of the signs of the times, and in some 
respects a good one. Its bright side may be pointed 
out with devout thankfulness. 

1. It has been from the very beginning a standing 
protest against polytheism and idolatry. If there was 
anything to which its celebrated founder, Kajah Earn 
Mohun Roy, seemed irreconcilably opposed, it was idol- 
atry. He disliked and even abhorred it from his youth 
up, and he allowed no opportunity of publicly express- 
ing his hatred to it to slip out of his hands. He wrote 
against it, he spoke against it, he deplored its ascen- 
dency in the country in public and in private, and he 
ultimately embodied an implacable hostility to it in an 
organization which was fitted not to give it quarter. 
The fact that he once or twice represented it as neces- 
sary to the ignorant does not detract from his hostility 


to it. Brahmoisin has with some degree of fidelity 
represented his irreconcilable antagonism to the popular 
idolatry of the country. It has perhaps relaxed its 
zeal against it a little in the attempts it has at all times 
made to coquette with it, but on the whole its trumpet 
has not given an uncertain sound in this matter. As a' 
standing protest against popular forms of idolatry, we 
may bid it God-speed. 

2. It has, since the organization of the progressive 
Somaj, been a standing protest against the caste system. 
Eajah Ram Mohun Eoy strove to maintain his caste, 
at least ostensibly, even hi England ; and no form of 
service fitted to indicate his renunciation of its privi- 
leges was held when his remains were buried at Bristol. 
His successor, Babu Debendro JNath Tagore, was 
equally determined to leave the monster intact ; but 
Babu Keshub Chunder Sen made it not merely a moot- 
point, but a test question, and has ever since his separa- 
tion from the Adi Somaj been firm on this point, how- 
ever veering on others. And it must be admitted that 
in this matter he has sacrificed expediency to principle, 
and conscientiously thrown off advantages which he 
might have secured by carrying out a temporizing 
policy. The avowed antagonism of his Somaj to the 
formidable system of caste is a good sign. 

3. Bralimoism, again, has • to the best of its ability 
thrown itself into the work of social and political 
reform. It has introduced a needed innovation into 
the marriage laws of the country, has bestirred itself in 
the cause of female education, has organized associa- 
tions to check the spread of drunkenness in the land, 
and has always been most forward to back efforts 
fitted to help the needy and raise the poor. It has 
been not merely a theoretical religion, but a practical 


system, and its humanitarianism is worthy of praise 
and encouragement. 

4. Again, Brahmoism is doing its best to resist the 
tide of atheism which is flowing out specially of gov- 
ernment schools and colleges. What may be called the 
religion of negations is unhappily becoming fashionable 
among the very best educated alumni of these institu- 
tions. This religion appears under a garb of modest 
doubt or unbelief, and therefore shorn of its repellent 
features ; but in reality it does its best to hold up to 
ridicule the primary, instinctive beliefs on which the 
superstructure of every positive religion is based. It 
does not boldly deny in unequivocal terms the existence 
of God, the propriety of worship, moral distinctions, 
the future reward of virtue and the future punishment 
of vice. But the denial is implied in its tone, its utter- 
ances, its affected modesty, and its sarcastic smile. 
This insidious foe is abroad, and no Christian fights it 
more systematically, more energetically, than the 

5. Brahmoism, moreover, has been popularizing ideas 
which are foreign to the literature of the country — 
which are characteristically as well as admittedly 
Christian — viz. , the fatherhood of God and the 
brotherhood of man. In an article entitled " The 
Kelation of the Brahmo Somaj to Hinduism and Chris- 
tianity," in the Theistic Annual for 1873, there are 
statements which point out with emphasis the great 
source from which these lofty ideas have been bor- 
rowed. On page 28 of the brochure occur the follow- 
ing sentences : " The idea of the brotherhood and 
equality of all mankind before God, I am sorry to say, 
is not to be found, because it is never recognized in any 
of our ancient writings. The idea is decidedly foreign, 


Western, and I think I might say Christian." And on 
page 31 of the same paper we have this admission : '" I 
do not deny there are innumerable passages in Hindu 
books calling the Divine Being by all manner of 
names, but such names and the sentiments they embody 
are very different from the deep personality of spiritual 
relation typically expressed when Jesus exclaimed f 
" Our Father in heaven !" These ideas may and do 
lie buried beneath heaps of error in the religions of the 
world, but Christianity has not merely exhumed and 
vitilized them, but given them a practical significance 
they never possessed before its appearance. And 
Brahmoism, by popularizing them in a country where 
they are scarcely, if at all, recognized and never 
reduced to practice, is doing good. 

6. And, lastly, the universal veneration in which the 
name of our Lord is held in almost all circles of our 
educated countrymen is to be ascribed, partly at least, 
to the teaching and influence of the Somaj. Time was, 
even within the recollection of middle-aged men in 
India, when the excellency of the character of our Lord 
was so little perceived that attempts to question its 
spotless purity were made by a few even of those who 
stood at the head of the educated community at Cal- 
cutta. A pamphlet was written entitled, " Chris- 
tianity — -"What is it ?" by a man who used to distin- 
guish himself both as an essayist and a speaker in the 
debating clubs of the metropolis, and in it a virulent 
attack on the moral character of our Lord was made. 
But a great change has come over the educated commu- 
nity since its appearance in the matter. One scarcely 
now comes across among its members a person ignorant 
and stupid enough to throw out hints and innuendoes 
to the disparagement of the character of Christ, while 


the monster ready to come out with an open attack 
thereon in print has entirely disappeared from the 
stage of religions controversy in India. This change 
has been brought about by the spread of correct infor- 
mation regarding the life of our Lord, facilitated 
mainly by the missionaries. But it must be admitted 
that in this matter they have been helped by the Somaj, 
which may in one sense be considered a fruit of their 
labor of love. 

Having pointed out some of the excellences of 
Brahmoism, we consider it our duty to refer to a 
few of its defects before we proceed to a careful ex- 
amination of its historical development and doctrinal 
principles. Let us conclude this paper with a brief 
notice of a few of the mistakes into which our Brahmo 
friends have fallen. 

1. They have fallen into the mistake of renouncing a 
few of those beliefs which may justly be characterized 
as intuitive. They have retained a few of the instinc- 
tive beliefs of humanity, the ultimate principles of 
faith, and in this they have acted wisely ; but the} r 
have cast overboard a few, and this is one of the most 
prominent mistakes they have made. They have 
retained the instinctive beliefs of man unf alien, but 
they have thrown aside the instinctive beliefs, or what 
may properly be called the instinctive beliefs of man 

The religion of humanity may justly be represented 
as consisting of two formations — the primitive and sec- 
ondary. The primitive formation is simple naturalism 
or the religion of nature, which finds its complete, or 
all but complete, embodiment in four of the five well- 
known symbols of Lord Herbert of Cherbury : (1) There 
is a God. (2) He ought to be worshipped. (3) Yirtue 


and piety are the chief elements of worship. (4) There 
is a future life of rewards and punishments. These 
principles are the basis of all faith, and may be found, 
buried it may be, under heaps of error in every system 
of religion properly so called. The religion they con- 
stitute of themselves would have been adequate to the 
exigencies of human nature if man had not sinned, but 
the relations in which he stands to the Being whose 
righteous law he has presumptuously transgressed are 
disturbed, and his own nature is vitiated. Something 
therefore must be added to the original religion of 
humanity to make it suited to his altered circum- 
stances. Lord Herbert of Cherbury is aware of this, 
and adds to the principles of naturalism another 
symbol, the necessity of repentance. Repentance, he 
affirms, is a duty. 

But when this father of modern infidelity in England 
dwells upon the sufficiency of his five symbols, he is at 
war with the instincts of fallen man, who naturally 
builds up another formation or stratum of beliefs upon 
his foundation. These beliefs it is desirable to enu- 

a. Belief in the necessity of a divine intervention or 
direct miraculous interference to rectify the disorder of 
the moral world is universal and instinctive. Every 
sin a man commits is, as Dr. Bushnell justly says, a 
miracle — an action performed in contravention of the 
laws of nature — and brings in a miracle of disorder. 
The result of man's sin is the complete unhingement of 
the machinery of nature : man sits in the world amid 
universal wreck as a child who has let fall a beautiful 
tea-service from, a table, and shrieks and sits aghast 
amid scattered fragments of broken cups and broken 
saucers. And man is no more able to reorganize the 


world than the child is to replace the beautiful cups 
and saucers he has broken into pieces. And so he 
instinctively cries for divine intervention as the child 
cries for help. And he not only believes in the neces- 
sity of such intervention, but maintains that God has 
intervened — come between a ruined humanity and a 
ruined world to rectify the disorders of both. 

b. Belief in the necessity of a divine revelation — 
objective, not merely subjective — is also universal and 
instinctive. One result of sin is darkness in the soul, 
the extinction of that knowledge of God and our duty, 
which but for sin would have been our glorious heri- 
tage. Experience brings man to a recognition of two 
indisputable facts — that he is destitute of proper knowl- 
edge of God and his duty, and .that he cannot by his 
own effort struggle out of his spiritual ignorance. And 
he instinctively cries for a revelation, and maintains, 
moreover, that one has been granted. There is not 
merely a universal recognition of the need of a revela- 
tion, but a universal belief that God has been pleased 
to vouchsafe a revelation for the enlightenment and 
guidance of fallen man. 

c. The necessity of mediation, moreover, is univer- 
sally and instinctively recognized by man. Men who 
have no adequate ideas or approximately adequate ideas 
of the intense holiness of God or of their own unutter- 
able corruption may laugh at the idea of approaching 
the Deity through a Mediator ; but humanity instinc- 
tively believes that sin has rendered direct communica- 
tion between the righteous Kuler of the universe and 
His rebellious subjects impossible. The religions of the 
world prove this to a demonstration. Nay, so strong 
is the tendency to have recourse to mediation that some 
of those who have been most prominent in their oppo- 


sition to it have themselves been converted into media- 
tors. Mohammed vehemently opposed the doctrine, 
and distinctly gave his people to understand that he 
was not a mediator ; but his ashes had not become cold 
ere he was raised to the dignity of a mediator by his 
followers. And if Brahmoism live and become the re- 
ligion, not of small groups of solitary thinkers but of 
the masses, Mr. Sen or some other leader will erelong 
be converted into a mediator in spite of all the loud talk 
against mediation associated with it ! 

d. "What has been said of the necessity of mediation 
may with equal propriety be said of the necessity of an 
atonement for sin. The universality of the doctrine of 
sacrifice proclaims this necessity in tones of thunder. 
Man's tendency to a recognition of the necessity of an 
atonement for sin — not a spiritual and intangible, but a 
palpable, bloody atonement for sin — is so strong that all 
attempts to overcome it have been foiled. The his- 
tory of Buddhism is full of instruction in this as in 
other respects. Buddha declared a war of extermina- 
tion against one and all the moral instincts of human- 
ity, going the length of even ignoring, if not denying, 
the existence of God. But he has been conquered by 
these instincts, has himself been worshipped as a god, 
recognized as an incarnation, honored as a prophet or 
the source of a special revelation, and regarded univer- 
sally by his followers as a being who came down from 
heaven to rectify the disorders brought in by sin. 
One of the doctrines he opposed most vehemently is 
the doctrine of sacrifice. How utterly futile his oppo- 
sition has been is proved by the fact that sacrifices are 
universally offered in countries wherein his sway has 
been acknowledged and his religion has been in the 

24 BRAHilOISlT. 

e . And lastly, belief in an incamaticn is universa 
and instinctive. The belief of humanity which ap- 
pears at first sight the strangest is that God has ap- 
peared in a visible and tangible form on the stage of 
human history. This belief is a unique phenomenon, 
and has to be explained. It cannot be traced to human 
philosophy, which has always enlarged upon the impos- 
sibility of the great God taking any interest in human 
affairs, and which has laughed at the idea of His taking 
so much interest therein as to be induced to forsake His 
heavenly glory and come into the world in a human 
form. Man is naturally prone to have such an over- 
whelming sense of God's greatness as to look upon such 
condescension on His part as impossible. This univer- 
sal conviction, therefore, cannot be traced to him. 
Left to himself, he could not possibly have elaborated 
the idea of an incarnation. His universal belief in it 
must therefore be traced to some other source. Admit 
that prophetic announcements regarding an incarnation 
have existed in some form or other from the beginning 
of clays, and that in the fulness of time God did appear 
on the stage of history under the limitations of a 
human form, and the strange phenomenon is rationally 

These instinctive beliefs lie embedded in one and all 
the religions of the world, and they are associated 
with the deepest longings of the human heart. Brah- 
moism in casting: them overboard has committed the 
same sort of mistake to which the vagaries and crotch- 
ets of Mormonism and Comtism are to be traced. 
While it deserves praise for the good sense with which 
it has retained the intuitions embodied in what we 
have called the primitive formation of the religion of 
humanity, it has laid itself open to censure by throw- 


ing aside those of which its secondary formation is 

2. The second mistake of our Brahmo friends is the 
readiness with which they have held up to public view 
as correct representations of Christian doctrine, the 
caricatures thereof presented in the writings of noted 
infidels. As candid men they should have borrowed 
their notions of our holy religion from the Bible and 
standard works on Christian theology ; but instead of 
pursuing this sensible course they have allowed them- 
selves to be victimized by misstatements and false rep- 
resentations emanating from the enemy's camp. They 
have allowed dashing, reckless writers of the Theodore 
Parker stamp to indoctrinate them in this matter, and 
it is no wonder that they have received poison instead 
of wholesome food. 

Let us illustrate this by an example. The Theistic 
Quarterly fieview for May, 1880, contains an article 
from the pen of Mr. A. D. Tyssen entitled, " The 
Schools of Religious Thought in England." It has 
scarcely fallen to our lot to see so many misrepresenta- 
tions grouped together in a paper of so small a size. 
Speaking of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the 
writer says : " The Son is the name for Jesus ; and 
the Holy Ghost is a name for the divine influence shed 
by God upon man, iv7iich was personified and deified by 
the Christians of the third century or thereabouts." 
The italics are ours. If this statement were publicly 
made in England, the ignorance and temerity of the 
writer would be at once recognized, and little mischief 
done, if any at all. But here there is danger of a state- 
ment so obviously false being accepted as true. 
Under the caption " The Mcene Creed," Mr. Tyssen 
has these sentences : " The early Christians began call- 


ing Jesus the Son of God without attributing any very 
definite meaning to the expression. Then certain 
theories were invented to justify it, one of which was 
the miraculous conception of Jesus." Here is a priori 
history with a vengeance. Speaking of the High 
Church party, the writer says : " There are two theo- 
ries in the New Testament of the communication of a 
divine grace to the apostles. One of these is that on 
one occasion (John 20 : 20) Jesus aspired on them and 
said, ' Eeceive ye the Holy Spirit. ' The other theory 
is that some days after Jesus ascended, as is alleged, 
into heaven, the Holy Ghost descended on the apos- 
tles, and apparently the other followers of Jesus also, 
one hundred and twenty in number (Acts 1 : 15), in the 
shape of fiery tongues, and conferred on them the 
power of speaking foreign languages." Theories in- 
deed ! Facts are without the slightest evidence coolly 
represented as theories. Speaking of ' ' the influences 
which are acting upon religious thought in the present 
day, ' ' he says : ' ' These are nothing less than a mass 
of evidence, growing stronger and stronger every day, 
tending to show that the whole basis of the Christian 
religion is false, and its structure unstable at every 
point. ' ' 

Mr. Tyssen presents this " mass of evidence." We 
cannot of course be expected to analyze this volumi- 
nous ( !) mass in the fag-end of our paper, but we shall 
present two or three examples. Mr. Tyssen first al- 
ludes to the tendency of modern astronomy to overturn 
our faith, and says : " Now the whole Christian theory 
of the relation of Jesus to God is based on the assump- 
tion that the human inhabitants of this planet are the 
sole objects of God's care and attention. But surely 
the other worlds must exist for some good purpose : 


are they not peopled with intelligent moral beings ? Do 
they not require a revelation and a redemption just as 
much as ourselves ? Is the second person of the God- 
head going round to these millions of globes and in 
each sacrificing himself up to the first person ; or are 
the inhabitants of this globe the only set to be re- 
deemed, and all others to be annihilated or doomed to 
eternal torture ?" The writer being obviously an in- 
telligent man, it is impossible to refrain from bringing 
a charge of disingenuousness and malicious libel against 
him. How coolly he assumes two things in spite of 
direct statements to the contrary — the confinement of 
the benefits of Christ's death to this world, and the 
similarity between its moral condition and that of the 
innumerable worlds scattered over the universe ! The 
bold writer does not even spare the moral teaching of 
our Lord as he speaks of " a conviction that the moral 
precepts of the Bible are in many cases deficient and in 
some clearly wrong. Thus, " take no thought for the 
morrow" is wrong ; " resist not evil " is wrong ; " give 
to him that asketh thee is wrong. " Nothing can be 
done for persons who ivill not understand. Speaking 
of " the supernatural events in the Bible," the writer 
says : i( JVb one now can believe the stories of the 
flood, the sun standing still, and Jonah living in the 
whale's belly." No one, we suppose, barring the mill- 
ions of intelligent men who call themselves Christians 
of the orthodox type J 

The naked fallacy of these and other statements of 
the sort with which this short paper is fraught makes 
them innocuous in Christian lands, where people know 
something about their religion. But here, where 
people do not take the trouble of studying Christianity, 
they a,re regarded as Gospel truth, and its claims are 


consequently laughed at. As a rule our Brahmo 
friends, as we shall have occasion to show, look at our 
holy religion through the distorting medium of such 
libellous statements, and in this they commit a mistake 
which tends to rob them of the character of fair reason- 
ers to which they lay claim. 

3. We shall here point out only one more of the 
grievous mistakes into which our Brahmo friends have 
fallen. They have assumed the attitude and tone of 
teachers a little too soon. The claims they advance 
are at first sight preposterous, and justify the array of 
sarcasms of which they so loudly complain. They claim 
an extraordinary or rather miraculous insight into the 
religions of the world. They profess to understand 
Hinduism better than the Hindus, Mohammedanism 
better than Mohammedans, and Christianity better 
than Christians. There are learned men in the country 
who have grown gray in the atmosphere of Hindu lit- 
erature, who have the holy scriptures of the country 
and their precious contents at their ringers' end, but 
they are assured by a number of young men, very good 
indeed, but by no means distinguished by breadth of 
scholarship or acuteness of thought, that their labors 
have been in vain and that tliey have egregiously failed 
to understand the very rudiments of their religion ! 
There are learned Mohammedans who have thoroughly 
mastered the Koran and the entire mass of literature 
connected with and bearing upon it ; but they must 
with cheerful submission sit at the feet of men to 
whom the language of their sacred book is even a 
greater mystery than its mystical declarations, and 
learn the very A B C of their religion. And as to 
learned archbishops and bishops, clergymen and mis- 
sionaries, their ignorance of the teaching of Christ, in 


spite of the fact that they have made it tiie subject of 
their life-long study, is deplorable indeed. If any body 
of men need to repair to the Brahmo church for in- 
struction with the greatest eagerness, they are the 
men ; and yet such is human obduracy that they of all 
men are the most prone to keep aloof from what is so 
beautifully adapted to raise them from the depths of 
degrading ' ' Christolatry' ' to the glorious height of 
pure theism ! Such attitude on the part of the de- 
servedly esteemed champions of Brahmoism is ridicu- 
lous, and that because there is in reality nothing to jus- 
tify it. If they had really discovered some new truths, 
dug out some buried jewels of thought from the accumu- 
lated sacred literature of the world, and exposed them 
before the admiring gaze of its vast populations, their 
pompous assumption of the dignity and functions of 
heaven-appointed teachers of mankind might have had 
a shadow of sense about it. But as they simply appear 
in borrowed feathers, the attitude they assume as such 
is ludicrously out of place. If they had taken up the 
modest position of learners, and thoughtfully and 
prayerfully trodden the path of inquiry, they might 
have, instead of being entangled in mazes of vagaries, 
had the sunshine of genuine truth in their souls ! 

Brahmoism, it must be confessed, has exerted but a 
very limited influence over the educated natives of 
India, and the most advanced among them are prone to 
look upon it as a superstition, perhaps a trifle better 
than Christianity. And yet Brahmoism presents in 
almost every Indian city a very refreshing sight — a 
number of young men, too small to be taken notice of 
by the outside world, united by a creed loftier by far 
than those prevalent in the country, and a service far 
more rational than the mummeries and tomfooleries as- 


sociated with current forms of worship. It is indeed 
very satisfactory to see small communities of Brahmos 
meeting together to worship God, not after the irra- 
tional modes utilized in the country, but in the sen- 
sible style brought in by Christians — to sing appro- 
priate hymns of praise, to offer up impassioned prayers 
for pardon and for purification, and to deliver discourses 
more or less able on religious and moral topics. But 
there are serious drawbacks to the satisfaction with 
which we contemplate these scenes of devotional en- 

These communities lack in their constitution the 
fibre of genuine thorough-paced earnestness, and there- 
fore they allow themselves in religious matters simply 
to drift. There are some sincere men among their 
members, but few even among these have such enthu- 
siasm of loyalty as will enable them to stand a series of 
persecutions or to maintain their faith through thick 
and thin. The Brahmo publications are brimful of 
complaints about their indifference and apathy, and 
the fact that, though professedly attached to their new- 
fangled system, they are by no means willing to make 
the slightest sacrifice for it is universally acknowledged. 
Their attitude, therefore, invites general banter and 
sarcasm in a country where any form of religion which 
fails to lead to extraordinary sacrifices is considered a 

But the presence of this element of weakness in 
Brahmoism — the acknowledged indifference and apathy 
on the part of the^great majority of its professors — is 
not here brought forward as fitted to invalidate its 
claims. It is referred to simply as a bad sign, and 
therefore a discouraging feature, though by no means 
confined to Brahmoism. But the most discouraging 


thing about the Brahmos as a body is an easy-going 
faith, giving rise to delusive peace. They are as a 
body most lamentably averse to calm inquiry and labo- 
rious investigation, more apt to be swayed by rhapso- 
dies than influenced by arguments. Without being 
moved by a proper insight into their religious wants, 
without being influenced by any of those religious con- 
victions and apprehensions from which the agonizing 
cry, What shall I do to be saved ? springs forth, and 
without that adequate amount of intellectual labor 
which accompanies successful investigation in all de- 
partments of knowledge, they have got hold of a few 
sporadic truths and built them up into a crude system. 
And they stand upon it as upon firm rock, determined 
to shake their heads at all arguments fitted to open 
their eyes to the vulnerable points of their own posi- 
tion, and the invulnerable character of that which they 
attack with such reckless impetuosity. The missiona- 
ries who have measured their strength with them in the 
arena of fair controversy have been forced to acknowl- 
edge that as a class they are impervious to reasoning. 
Declamation is their forte, and whenever brought to 
the corner by a fine of fair argumentation they adroitly 
elude its point by descanting on the supposed uselessness 
of arguments in the sphere of personal religion. They 
forget that personal religion is an impossibility apart 
from a body of truth susceptible of moral demonstra- 
tion, and resting its claims on evidence of some kind or 
other. And they are far from being alive to the fact 
that mere declamation, however well fitted to stir up 
undiscerning susceptibilities, cannot lead them to the 
truth, and that if they wish to find out the pearl of 
great price they must dig deep, analyze and weigh evi- 
dence with calmness, and tread the path of investiga- 



tion with assiduity and perseverance. That they may 
crive up the frivolity of an easy-going credence and 
make religion the subject of an earnest inquiry and la- 
borious research is our heartfelt prayer ! 



The Adi Somaj is the parent of all the associations 
which cluster around the banner of Brahmoism. An 
account of its origin, progress, constitution, and pres- 
ent status must therefore precede that of its offshoots, 
the Bramo Somaj of India or New Dispensation and 
the Saclharan Somaj. 

Let us in the first place point out the sources from 
which our information regarding the origin and de- 
velopment of the Adi Somaj is derived. These are 
varied and of undoubted authority. Among them the 
first place is to be given to Miss Carpenter's loving 
Memoirs of Rajah Ram Mohun Roy. Miss Sophia 
Dobson Collet's short " Historical Sketch of the Brah- 
mo Somaj," published in 1873, embodies a plain, un- 
varnished account, prized by all parties, by the Brah- 
mos themselves as well as by those who take serious 
exceptions to the conclusions she seems anxious to es- 
tablish. Mr. Dall's Lecture on " The Brahmo Somaj 
in India," delivered at !Naini Tal in June, 1874, adds 
some personal items of an interesting character to the 
valuable information contained in Miss Collet' s pam- 
phlet. A few important items of fresh information 
maybe culled from an article entitled " A Brief Survey 
of the Brahmo Mission" in The Theistie Annual for 
1874, and from a tract entitled " The Brahmo Somaj 
Vindicated," published in 1868. Our information re- 


garcling the doctrinal platform occupied by the Adi 
Somaj is mainly derived from Dr. Mullens 's well-known 
book entitled " Yedantism, Brahmoism, and Chris- 
tianity," a repertory of information and a masterly 
refutation of the arguments arrayed in favor of its 

The Adi Somaj was founded by Rajah Ram Mohun 
Roy in January, 1830, the year which was signalized in 
America by the birth of Mormonism. The great man 
was born at Radhanagar in the district of Burdwan, of 
Brahmin parents. He early developed a tendency to 
religious inquiry and life, coupled with intellectual 
powers of a superior order. When a boy he was a fol- 
lower of Yishnu like his parents, and he showed his 
loyalty to his creed by devoutly reading a chapter of 
Bhagavat every morning. But when he was sixteen 
years old he was so thoroughly convinced of the futil- 
ity and senselessness of the popular idolatry that he 
determined to oppose it publicly by writing a manu- 
script against it. This led to a breach between him 
and his father so wide that he was obliged to leave the 
home of his early years. He travelled in different 
parts of the country, all the time making religion, both 
theoretical and practical, the main subject of his study. 
He also spent three years in Thibet studying the forms 
of faith prevalent there. Here also his opposition to 
idolatry manifested itself and brought him into grief. 

When he was about twenty his father was reconciled 
to him, and he returned to the home of his childhood 
with improved health and settled principles. His con- 
victions, however, did not give him rest, and he entered 
into earnest controversies with the champions of the 
popular faith, and thereby made himself an object of 
universal dislike, insomuch that his father was obliged 


once more to separate himself ostensibly from him. 
This renewed breach, however, was apparent, not real, 
as the wayward son continued to receive substantial 
help from the apparently incensed father. His dislike 
to idolatry became uncontrollably vehement after his 
father's death, and led him to overt acts of hostility 
such as rendered a reconciliation between him and the 
interested parties opposed to him an impossibility. He 
took advantage of the press, newly introduced into the 
country, and published a series of works subversive of 
the position maintained by his opponents. 

Rajah Earn Mohun Roy was a diligent student of 
theology. He mastered not only English and Bengali, 
but Sanscrit, Arabic, Persian, Greek, and Hebrew, with 
a view to study the sacred scriptures of the Hindoos, 
Mohammedans, and Christians in the original. But it 
should be observed that during at least the time he de- 
voted to such sacred study, he sought religious truth to 
satisfy a craving of the intellect rather than a longing 
of the heart. And certainly no religion does at first 
sight commend itself to the intellect of man as more rea- 
sonable than the monotheism which he made his creed. 
It is when the longings of the human heart are care- 
fully looked into that the insufficiency of mere theism 
becomes manifest, together with the necessity of a 
remedial system adapted to its diseased condition. 

The conclusion to which his theological investigations 
brought him was on the whole well grounded. A pure 
system of monotheism may partly be represented as 
the basis on which the superstructures raised by the 
varied religions of the world are founded. Could not 
this system be extricated and made the basis of a re- 
ligious union among mankind I Rajah Ram Mohun 
Roy concluded that this achievement could be realized, 


and the great desire of his life was to found a church 
within the precincts of which the followers of the 
diverse and conflicting religions of the world might 
join in public adoration of the great God in whom they 
all believed. He was in many respects an earnest man, 
and his theory of the feasibility of effecting a union 
of all religions under the form of a monotheism distilled 
from them appeared in a visible and tangible shape. 

In January, 1830, the year which witnessed the 
abolition of female immolation or Suttee rite, for which 
he had labored hard, he, along with a few select 
friends, laid the foundation of the Association, which 
eventually developed into the Brahmo Somaj. He 
called the Association ' ' Brahmo Sabha, ' ' or the Society 
of Brahma, the Supreme .Deity, bought a house in 
Chitpore Eoad, Calcutta, for its meetings, and fur- 
nished it with a small endowment to meet all necessary 
charges. The whole establishment was placed in the 
hands of trustees appointed by him, and provision was 
made in the trust-deed for the permanent exclusion of 
all idolatrous worship, and the maintenance of such as 
was fitted to lead to ' ' the promotion of the contem- 
plation of the Author and Preserver of the Universe," 
and " the strengthening of the bonds of union between 
men of all religious persuasions and creeds." 

About nine or ten months after the foundation of 
this Association, the Kajah proceeded to England as 
an agent mainly of the Emperor of Delhi. In Eng- 
land, where his fame as a distinguished scholar and re- 
former had preceded him, he was received with very 
great honor by almost all classes of respectable people, 
especially by ladies and gentlemen of rationalistic ten- 
dencies. A great many hopes were centred in him 
by distinguished persons in India, but his death,- occur- 


ring in the third year of his stay in England, led to 
their being dashed to the gronnd. A very interesting 
account of the busy life he led in England, the honors 
heaped upon him in every place he visited, the cordial 
reception. he was especially favored with in rationalistic 
circles at Bristol, and the affectionate care with which 
he was nursed when ill, is given in Miss Carpenter's 
little book entitled " The Last Days of Rajah Ram 
Mohun Roy." This book is by no means deficient in 
faithful and accurate delineation, inasmuch as, though 
written by an ardent admirer with the object of setting 
forth his greatness, it is a correct index of those great 
mistakes, perhaps not regarded as such by the amiable 
writer herself, which it is our duty to point out. 

The first and perhaps the greatest mistake of his life 
was the very attractive Quixotic idea by which he al- 
lowed himself to be victimized with an ease incompati- 
ble with the astuteness he always displayed as a man 
of business. This was the idea of reconciling the jar- 
ring religions of the world under the shade of a simple 
rationalistic creed. This had been attempted by many 
illustrious foreigners before his day, by a few of the 
reformers of his own country, and by a Mohammedan 
sovereign at whose eccentricity he must have heartily 
laughed ; and the complete failure of all attempts pre- 
viously made should have been a deterrent warning to 
him. It is to us a matter of surprise that a man of his 
calm and penetrating intellect should have conceited 
it possible to conciliate the Hindus by means of a 
system which represented idolatry as a great crime, to 
conciliate Christians by a religion which declared a 
war of extermination against the doctrine of the 
Trinity. Had he not allowed his clear intellect to be 
clouded and warped by a romantic but essentially false 


theory, he would have been the first person to recog- 
nize the incongruity of the position he occupied with 
the hope he cherished — he would have clearly seen 
that so long as he opposed, either directly or indirectly, 
doctrines held as life by the followers of the different 
religions of the world, it was idle to talk of their recon- 
ciliation and union under his auspices. A little 
thought, in a word, might have brought him to the 
conclusion that the hostility with which the varied 
religions of the world regarded each other and with 
which they were sure to look at his new-fangled faith, 
was implacable, and therefore fitted to laugh at all his 
attempts to effect its removal. The sequel was — he 
strove to please everybody and succeeded in pleasing 
no one. 

His second mistake was his pursuance of a supple 
temporizing, rather than an inflexible, uncompromising 
policy. He professedly believed in Unitarianism, and 
published an octavo volume of about six hundred and 
fifty pages, representing the Precepts of Jesus ' c as the 
sole guide to peace and happiness." He called Jesus 
" the founder of truth and of true religion," " a being 
in which dwelt all truth," "the spiritual Lord and 
king of Jews and Gentiles." He called himself " a fol- 
lower of Christ," " a believer in Him as the Son of God 
in a sense peculiar to Him alone." And in spite of all 
these public acknowledgments of fealty to Christ, he 
set up what might justly be called a Hindu frame- 
work, and unscrupulously thrust the Master, whose 
follower he never hesitated among Unitarians and 
Christians to represent himself to be, into the back- 
ground. He constituted the TJpani shads, not the New 
Testament, the canonical scriptures of his association, 
and scrupulously observed the caste system in the 


forms of worship he established. The sacred scriptures 
were read by Brahmins in a closed room, apart from 
the rude gaze of the worshippers of various castes as- 
sembled in the consecrated hall, the portions of the ser- 
vice these, might consider their own being the sermons 
delivered and the hymns sung. Nay, from considera- 
tions purely personal, the redoubtable Kajah simulated 
reverence for the caste system in public, while in pri- 
vate he never scrupled to trench contemptuously upon 
its rules ; and by death-bed directions went so far as to 
debar himself from the privilege of religious burial, 
that his fidelity to its injunctions might be known to 
his countrymen, and that nothing prejudicial to the in- 
terests of his legitimate heirs might occur ! All this 
might be venial in the case of a shrewd man of busi- 
ness ; but his conduct, when viewed in connection with 
his claims as a reformer, cannot but be pronounced both 
inconsistent and reprehensible. 

It is admitted that he was induced to adopt this 
course by prudential considerations. He believed in the 
principle of killing the devil by easy blows, and he main- 
tained the propriety of avoiding overt acts of hostility, 
such as might create a breach between him and his 
countrymen, and thereby make it impossible for him to 
influence them for good. He considered it desirable to 
come down to their level that he might gradually raise 
them to his. But intelligent and observant as he was, 
he might have known that a temporizing policy of the 
sort he determined upon pursuing had never succeeded, 
and could not but prove a failure. Arid it, in this case, 
did prove a failure, though fortunately he did not live 
to see and be mortified by it. The caste system, to 
which he ostensibly paid homage in the forms of devo- 
tion he instituted, ultimately led to the first great dis- 


ruption by which the very life of his association was 
endangered, and to the shock from which it has never 
recovered. The following bit of conversation, reported 
by Mr. Dall in his pamphlet alluded to, shows that 
even the bare mention of the name he revered, and 
wished to see revered, was tabooed within the precincts 
of his church by his successor. " On first visiting 
Debendro Nath Tagore, in 1855, I asked him whether 
he ever allowed the name of Jesus to be heard in his 
church. ' No, never, ' he replied. ' And why not ? ' 
I said. ' Because some people call him God.' " 

Another of his great mistakes was that he sought 
Theism where it could not be found, or rather that he 
supported his monotheistic creed by documents which 
were in spirit and in letter opposed thereto. He pro- 
fessed to have discovered a system of pure Theism in 
the Upanishads, and he made these venerable docu- 
ments the main if not the sole stay of the creed, 
under the banner of which he expected to see the 
diverse and clashing religions of the world reconciled. 
But the conclusion upheld by the Upanishads was the 
very antipodes of what he expressed an anxiety to 
bolster up by these remains of the sacred literature of 
the country. Nobody can read the Upanishads, even 
cursorily, without being driven to the conclusion that 
pantheism, not theism, is the creed upheld by the spirit 
and letter of their teaching. The cosmogonies em- 
bodied therein (each evolving the wonders of creation 
either through an omnific spirit or through the so-called 
elements, or through food, out of the essence of Brah- 
ma, or out of some unmanifested substance behind the 
manifested Deity), the insight presented into the 
origin and nature of mam as well as of the world, the 
way of salvation pointed out, knowledge of man's per- 


feet identity with Brahma, and the view given of his 
ultimate absorption into the Divine Essence — all these 
are irrefragable proofs of the dominant, pantheistic 
tendency of these hoary records. And those who pre- 
tend to find nothing but theism in them are among 
the parties who, in analyzing the contents of all docu- 
ments, allow themselves to be dragged as slaves by their 
foregone conclusions. 

"What was the result of this serious mistake ? For 
years the religion of Rajah Ram Mohun Roy's associa- 
tion was, not the monotheism he was anxious to see 
established, but the ancient pantheism of the country. 
His successors, some of whom were learned Pandits, 
did not play fast and loose with the Upanishads, as 
those do who pretend to discover pure theism in them ; 
and they fearlessly set up the creed these documents 
were fitted to uphold. Nay, they went further. 
They added the Brahmo Sutras of Uyas and the com- 
ments of Shanker Acharya to their sacred literature, 
and moved heaven and earth to resuscitate the religion 
of which these two persons were the most redoubtable 
champions in ancient India. They propounded the 
doctrine of an all-pervasive spiritual essence, the doc- 
trine of emanation or self -development, and the doc- 
trine of absorption ; and they illustrated and fortified 
these doctrines by means of analogies and arguments 
borrowed from the existing records of the ancient pan- 
theism of our country. And it was not till the unten- 
able nature of the creed of the Upanishads had been 
rendered manifest by a literary expedition to Benares 
that pantheism was abolished and the monotheism of 
the founder was restored. 

It is in our humble opinion difficult to settle whether 
Rajah Ram Mohun Roy was a monotheist or a pan- 


theist. His published utterances in England are in 
favor of the assumption that he was a theist of the 
Unitarian school, but the great work of his life was the 
revival of pantheism, and the beautiful songs he com- 
posed were decidedly pantheistic. However settled his 
convictions and principles were when he died among 
his Unitarian friends at Bristol, his mind seems to have 
wavered for a long time between pantheism and mono- 
theism. And this made him vacillate, and went far to 
justify the opinion entertained by his countrymen of 
him, that he was in essentials all things to all men, a 
Hindu among the Hindus, a Mussulman among Mus- 
sulmans, and a Christian among Christians. 

But perhaps the explanation of his vacillation is 
simple enough. He was not thoroughly an earnest 
man, and his religion was more a theory of the head 
than a moving principle of the heart. This will be 
represented as a very harsh judgment, especially when 
it is remembered that he encountered a series of petty 
persecutions by denouncing idolatry at a time when 
the spread of English education had not rendered it 
fashionable or even safe to do so. That he was moved 
by a noble and disinterested passion in the beginning 
of his career none will venture to deny. But may it 
not be safely assumed that the exuberance of patron- 
age and praise lavished upon him by not a few distin- 
guished members of the ruling class tended to de- 
moralize him to some extent ? At all events, it is a 
matter of fact that the noble impulse which guided him 
in the days of his youth gave place, long before he 
laid the foundation of his Association, to cool, calcu- 
lating, worldly wisdom, such as is unfavorable to the 
growth of genuine piety in the soul. It should also be 
borne in mind that Eajah Earn Mohun Koy's religion 


was not based on a deep conviction of sin and an equally 
deep insight into the longings of the human heart. It 
was at best a superficial affair, and the forms it assumed 
in different places and under diverse circumstances were 
in perfect keeping with its want of coherence, depth, 
and earnestness. In one respect, however, the Eajah 
was almost thoroughly consistent throughout his life- 
time, and that is his antagonism to popular idolatry, 
which he never hesitated to represent as a " detestable" 
sin, though at times he was prone to vindicate it as fit- 
ted to lead men of grovelling minds to rise to the 
adoration of the supreme spirit through the worship of 
tangible images. 

Kajah Earn Mohun's departure from the country 
some months after the inauguration of his system was 
almost a fatal blow to it. The Association lingered for 
almost nine years without being able to make its influ- 
ence felt beyond a very narrow and narrowing circle. 
In the year 1833 it received an impetus from a noble- 
man to whom, as the second great leader of the 
Brahmo movement, great prominence ought to be given 
in an account of its origin, rise, and development. 

Babu Debendro Nath Tagore was born in 1818 in 
one of the most refined though excommunicated homes 
in Calcutta. A son of the celebrated millionaire, Babu 
Dwarka Nath Tagore, he was brought up in the lap of 
profuse wealth and luxury ; and in the days of his 
youth he did not escape the demoralizing influence of 
such education. The Theistic Annual of 1872 presents 
an extract, under the heading of " Anecdotes and Chap- 
ters from Keal Life," from a sermon of his, giving an 
account of the striking way in which he was roused 
from voluptuous indolence and made alive to a sense of 
his duty to God and man. From " the sixteenth to 


the twentieth year" of his life he went on " intoxi- 
cated with the pleasures of the flesh, ' ' regardless of his 
" spiritual interests and dead to conscience and to 
God.' ' Let his own words relate the manner in which 
he was awakened. " Once, on the occasion of a do- 
mestic calamity, as I lay drooping and wailing in a re- 
tired spot, the God of glory suddenly revealed Himself 
in my heart and so entirely charmed me and sweetened 
my heart and soul, that for a time I continued rav- 
ished — quite immersed in a flood of light. The world 
outside and the world within both seemed bathed in a 
sweet and serene stream of celestial effulgence. What 
was it but the light of truth, the water of baptism, the 
message of salvation '( Was it a vision that so charmed 
me ? No, the living presence of the living God, who 
could doubt ?" But this season of ecstasy was fol- 
lowed by a long period of struggle, and it was not till 
he reached the twenty-fifth year of his life that he felt 
his " inferior propensities curbed," " the wild fury of 
passion abated, " " conscience reinstated in its exalted 
place," "the world shorn of its attractions," and 
" God " made " his only comfort and delight." 

Babu Debendra iSTath Tagore founded the Tattwa- 
hodhini Sdbha, or Society for the Knowledge of Truth, 
in 1839, almost three years before his spiritual strug- 
gles had given place to a holy calm — on the ruins, so 
to speak, of Rajah Bam Mohun Boy's association, yet 
with a view to perpetuate his work. The grand aim 
of this society was to "make known the religion of 
Brahma," and thereby effect the regeneration of the 
country. With a view to the accomplishment of this 
object, it determined, in the first place, to exhume the 
religion of Brahma from the sacred literature of the 
Hindus, long since dead and buried, to ascertain what 


their original shastras were and what their precepts 
with reference to worship, sacrifices, offerings, feasts 
and fasts, and to trace the modern system of poly- 
theism from its origin through the Darsans, Purans, 
Tantras, and other sacred books, down to the present 
time. In the second place, it purposed to prepare and 
circulate treatises on Astronomy, Natural History, 
Physiology, and Metaphysics, with a view to set forth 
the power, wisdom, and goodness of God, noticeable in 
His works. And, lastly, it was resolved that a com- 
plete system of morals should be elaborated to draw 
men, prone to go astray, toward the blessings of prac- 
tical religion. 

The task before the association was gigantic, but, 
nothing daunted, the members addressed themselves to 
it. Most opportunely they had a press and a fount 
of type presented to them, and they eagerly utilized 
the present by reprinting five of the Upanishads and 
some of Rajah Earn Mohun Roy's works. They 
started a monthly periodical, called the Tattwabodhini 
Patriha, and appointed one of the very best Bengali 
writers of the day as its editor. The periodical em- 
braced a wide range of subjects, though its great busi- 
ness was to create an interest in the sacred literature 
of the country. They established a school, which, how- 
ever, they had to give up for want of funds. They ap- 
pointed a learned Pandit as their minister, and under 
his guidance they held weekly meetings, at first at 
Babu Debendra Nath Tagore's house, but ultimately 
in their long hall in Chitpore Eoad. Monthly meet- 
ings were also held, and in them sacred texts from the 
Upanishads were read and expounded, and prayers 
were offered up. The order of the weekly service was 
the recitation of and meditation on the Gayatri, the 


w ell- known and oft-repeated Brahmin prayer, the 
chanting of a hymn from one of the Upamshads, an 
exposition of select texts from the Vedas, or an essay 
on some branch of natural theology, a short sermon by 
the president or some leading member, and a number 
of Bengali hymns sung by a choir occupying the recess 
opposite the dais reserved for the minister and his as- 

The society lacked organization and coherence, and 
to supply this want a " covenant," like the following, 
was drawn out : 

" The Brahrnist Covenant. 

c ' Om. This day, the day of the month of in 

the year I adopt the religion of the worshippers of 


" 1. I will live devoted to the worship of that one 
supreme Brahma who is the creator, preserver, and de- 
stroyer (of the universe), the cause of deliverance ; all- 
wise ; all-pervading ; full of joy ; the good ; and 
without form. I will worship him with love, and by 
doing things that will give him pleasure. 

"2. I will worship no created thing, as the supreme 
Brahma, the Creator of all. 

" 3. Except on days of sickness or calamity I will 
every day, when my mind shall be at rest, in faith and 
love, fix my thoughts in contemplation on the Supreme. 

" 4. I will live earnest in the practice of good 

" 5. I will endeavor to live free from evil deeds. 

" 6. If, overcome by temptation, I perchance do 
anything evil, I will surely desire to be free from it 
and be careful for the future. 


" 7. Every year, and in all my worldly prosperity, I 
will offer gifts to the Brahmo Somaj. 

" 8. Oh God ! grant unto me that I may entirely 
observe this excellent religion. ' ' 

This is, we believe, the revised covenant utilized 
when pantheism was formally abandoned by Babu 
Debendra Nath Tagore and his party, but it gives us 
insight into the nature and provisions of the original 

Mr. Tagore and twenty of his friends signed the 
original covenant, and were solemnly initiated into 
the new faith by their honored minister, Pandit Ram 
Chunder Vidyabagish, in December, 1843. Thus organ- 
ized, the society made great progress for about a lus- 
trum. A grand local habitation was secured, their 
present long and beautifully furnished hall in Calcutta, 
and branch associations were established in the vicinity 
of that city and a few in distant places. The member- 
ship increased from 83 in 1843 to 573 in 1847, and the 
income of the society rose during the period from 
3476-9-0 rupees to 6727-0 rupees. But from 1847, the 
most prosperous year, all things considered, the society 
has had, there was a falling off, both in its member- 
ship and its income, until, in the Eeport for 1851, we 
find the former represented by 488 and the latter by 
3155-0-10 rupees. 

Dr. Mullens, from whose very valuable book and 
table of statistics presented therein many of these facts 
have been borrowed, explains this rapid progress and 
equally rapid declension in a proper manner. English 
education was, especially during this time, shaking the 
established faith of the country to its centre. Multi- 
tudes of young men were abroad, too enlightened to 
believe for a moment in the current superstition of the 


country, but by no means earnest enough to ascertain 
the truth by calm inquiry and laborious investigation. 
They could not remain stationary, nor had they the 
moral courage and the spirit of self-renunciation to go 
as far as the truth might lead, and they sought a mid- 
way asylum which the Yedantism revived by the 
society offered them, besides flattering their national 
vanity. And they took shelter in large numbers ; but 
when they found out that they had nothing more than 
cold moral discourses to feed upon, their enthusiasm 
cooled down, and many of them retreated, preferring 
the uncertainties of universal doubt to the coldness of 
a lifeless creed. 

The period of decadence was a transitional period 
with reference to the creed of the Tatwabodhini 
Sobha. It witnessed the gradual loosening of the bonds, 
and ultimate downfall of Yedantism, and its superces- 
sion by what is called "Natural Theism." Every 
book embodying a historical survey of this association, 
Dr. Mullens' s excepted, gives an account of the way in 
which the change or rather revolution of belief was 
effected ; but the most detailed account we have seen 
of it is that presented in the tract entitled " The 
Brahmo Somaj Vindicated," published in 1868. The 
particulars given below are borrowed almost entirely 
from this able though declamatory pamphlet. 

One day Babu Debendra Nath Tagore got hold, by 
the purest accident, of a stray leaf of the well-known 
Sanscrit pamphlet, the " Isa Upanishad,' ' and naturally 
became anxious to look into its contents. But as he 
was ignorant of Sanscrit, he had the leaf read and ex- 
plained to him by a learned Pandit. He was so de- 
cidedly charmed and edified by the truths contained 
in it that he determined to study Sanscrit, and thereby 


render himself competent to study the sacred literature 
of which it was a very small fragment. He also de- 
puted four Pandits to Benares that they might study 
the four Yedas there, copy them out, and return 
to Calcutta with the precious treasure. These Pandits 
left Calcutta in 1845, and after a couple of years of 
study and investigation spent in the holy city, returned 
with the copies eagerly looked for by their employer. 
Babu Debendra jNath Tagore studied them with en- 
thusiasm ; but the result was a great disappointment 
rather than a deepening of the favorable impressions 
made upon his mind by the stray leaf. He found such 
puerility, error, and contradiction in these venerable 
records that his faith in their infallibility was thor- 
oughly shaken. A season of hesitation followed ; but 
ultimately truth triumphed, and the association gave 
up in 1850 its Yedantism, together with its belief 
in the canonical authority of the Yedas. Pantheism 
was formally abandoned, a form of theism was 
adopted, the original covenant was changed, and a 
book was published presenting the doctrines of the new 
faith in clear forcible language, but without much 
regard to lucidness of arrangement and precision of 
expression. This book, called the " Brahmo Dharmo," 
is even now the creed of the Adi Somaj. Dr. Mullens 
presents an able abstract of its contents in his small but 
very excellent work, and translates several of its state- 
ments. Of his labors we shall avail ourselves in our 
exposition of its doctrines and principles. 

This new religion is based upon four cardinal princi- 
ples, which are : 

1. " Before the production of this world there ex- 
isted only the supreme Brahma. Nothing else existed 
whatsoever. He created all this. 

50 BRAmioisM. 

2. " He is wisdom, eternity, joy, and goodness per- 
sonified ; the everlasting ruler of all, all wise, without 
a second, most wonderful in power. 

3. " From his worship alone is happiness produced 
here and hereafter. 

4. ' ' That worship consists in loving him and per- 
forming actions which give him pleasure. ' ' 

These principles, barring perhaps a little clumsiness 
of expression, are correct ; but they are too vague and 
general to be of any use to the soul awakened to a 
sense of its sinfulness and guilt, and therefore anxious 
to be saved. 

From generals let us descend to particulars. But 
before we present an insight into these we have one 
remark to make. The " Brahmo Dharma," though 
avowedly occupying a standpoint opposed to Pantheism 
or Yedantism, as it was called, is by no means com- 
pletely emancipated from its trammels. It is burdened 
with pantheistic phraseology and pantheistic reasoning, 
and its position on many of the intricate questions 
mooted is a sort of via media between Pantheism and 
Theism ; while the passages it quotes from the Upan- 
ishacls add to the air of uncertainty and confusion 
spread over its doctrinal and preceptive statements. 

1. With reference to the standard of Brahmo theol- 
ogy, the ' ' Brahmo Dharma 5 ' does by no means repudi- 
ate the infallibility of the ancient Yedas without equivo- 
cation. On the contrary, there are passages which seem 
to indicate a disposition to uphold the position origi- 
nally occupied. In the third chapter we have this state- 
ment : "In order to obtain a special knowledge of 
the Supreme Brahma, the disciple must go to a 
teacher. The wise teacher, if he perceive the pupil 
before him to be of a thoroughly peaceful and tran- 


quil mind, will instruct him in that science by which 
the imperishable and self-existing perfect One may be 
known. The Big-Yeda, the Yajur, the Sam, the 
Atharvan Yeda, the rules of accentuation, the rites 
of religion, grammar and the glossary, prosody, and 
astronomy — these constitute the inferior science. That 
is the most excellent science by which a knowl- 
edge of the imperishable Supreme Brahma is obtained. " 
This is an exact fac-simile of the method of attaining 
emancipating knowledge indicated in the Upanishads, 
and presupposes the infallibility of the sacred books of 
the country. But perhaps the belief of the Adi Somaj 
is — that of all religious books of the world these are 
the most fitted, though destitute of the character of 
infallibility, to give us that knowledge of God which 
results in the salvation of the soul here and its final 
emancipation from the effects of sin hereafter. 

2. What the " Brahmo Dharma " says of God is 
not free from the tinge of uncertainty by which 
nearly all its statements are characterized. Its great 
watchword JEJcamebaditiyam — " One without a sec- 
ond," was the battle cry of ancient pantheism, and 
must be interpreted according to new rules before it 
Can be made to embody the fundamental idea or truth 
of Natural Theism. And it reproduces the passages of 
the Upanishads in which God is represented as " the 
ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, the speech of the 
speech, the breath of the breath, the eye of the eye," 
and thereby apparently sanctions pantheistic notions. 
But on the whole it inclines to Theism, and represents 
God as " the Great Spirit," " without birth," who 
has no producer, no master, ' ' and who is the eter- 
nal one. ' ' He is said to be " without organs of per- 
ception, without organs of action," to have " His eye 


present everywhere, His face everywhere, His arm 
everywhere, His feet everywhere ;'■■' and "He knows 
all things that can be known," " presides over all as 
their king ;" and "He pervades whatever things are 
included in this egg of Brahma. ' ' He is l ' spotless, • ' 
" without sin," and " pure in nature," " the fountain 
of holiness, " " the punisher of sin, ' ' the • • Lord of 
wealth." " At all times He decrees to all His subjects 
the rewards and punishments which they deserve." 
" He is the refuge of all and the friend of all." And 
yet he is said to be Asneha, " without love," though 
Mangral Swarup, ' ' the type of benevolence and good- 
ness. ' ' 

3. What the book says regarding the relation of the 
world to God is, like what it says of the divine nature, 
not free from a tinge of Pantheism. For instance, here 
is a reproduction of the theory of evolution, pro- 
pounded in the Upanishads : " He reflected about the 
creation of the universe, etc. . . . From this Supreme 
sprang breath, reason, and senses, also ether, air, light, 
water, and this earth, which supports all things in the 
world. ' ' Again the idea of pantheistic pervasiveness 
runs through this sentence : " He who sees that all 
things abide in the Supreme Spirit, and perceives the 
existence of the Supreme Spirit in all things, feels not 
dislike toward any." The book, however, repudiates 
Pantheism, and puts a theistic construction on these 
and other reproduced utterances of the authors of the 
Upanishads. Nor are passages wanting setting forth 
an essential distinction between the Creator and His 
creation. " He is different from all things, known or 
unknown." "He has sprung from no cause, neither 
has He become anything else." " He is the witness of 
all, and possesses none of the qualities of created 


things. 5 ' He is represented as not only essentially 
different from His works, but as the Creator and Pre- 
server of the Universe, its Ruler and Judge. ' ' From 
the joyous Supreme all these living things sprang, and 
by Him they remain alive. " " By His control the sun 
and moon are firmly upheld," as well as "the earth 
and the sky, minutes, hours, day and night, the phases 
of the moon, the months, seasons, years. " " Through 
fear of Him the wind goes forward, the sun rises, the 
fire flames, the clouds pour forth water, and death 
moves on. " " He is the Bridge on which all worlds 
rest, and by which their dissolution is prevented." 
Yarious orders of intelligent creatures above man are 
admitted, and the Supreme Spirit is emphatically de- 
clared to be " the great God of gods, the Debta of 
Deltas, the Lord of lords. ' ' 

4. A code of morality, fair and lofty, is embodied in 
the " Brahmo Dharma." Man's duties to himself and 
to his family and to society at large are pointed out 
with clearness and circumstantiality. Man is ex- 
horted to subdue his senses and his passions and appe- 
tites, avoid self-indulgence in food and drink, practice 
self-restraint in all matters, and partake of pleasure 
and pain with moderation and calmness. He is ex- 
horted to appreciate the sanctity of marriage, to be a 
good husband, a good father, a good neighbor, a good 
citizen — to " esteem his elder brother as a father, his 
wife and sons as his own body, his servants as his 
shadow, and his daughters as objects of kindness." 
He is moreover exhorted to be strictly virtuous — to 
" avoid bad company," to regard " another's wealth 
as clods of earth, and all living creatures as himself," 
to " bear all the abuse of others" and " insult no 
one," and to be examples of " patience, forgiveness, 


subjugation of mind, honesty, purity of mind and 
body, control of the passions, knowledge of the Shas- 
tras, knowledge of Brahma, speaking the truth, and 
freedom from anger," or of " the ten signs of virtue." 
But the motives to virtue pointed out are, some of 
them at least, among the weakest ever brought for- 
ward to sustain a virtuous life. There are six : a. 
" All actions which are unblamed (by others) you may 
perform ; actions which are blamed you must not 
perforin. " h. " Whatever virtue we practise, you 
may do ; but don't practise anything besides." e. 
" Apply yourself to that which you consider to advance 
your own good. " cl. u Follow out with the greatest 
zeal whatever course will give satisfaction to yourself, 
and leave everything opposed to it." e. " The man 
who performs works of virtue obtains holy praise. " f. 
" Such a man obtains respect in this world and pros- 
perity in the next." Thus public opinion, the exam- 
ple of human teachers, self-interest, self -gratification, 
respect in the world are placed in the same category 
with "holy praise," supposing that to be the praise 
which comes from God, and with prosperity in the 
next ! 

5. The views of sin presented in the " Brahmo 
Dharma" are superficial, and by no means thoroughly 
correct as far as they go. The vexed question with ref- 
erence to the origin of sin, and its transmission by the 
laws of generation from father to son and downward, 
is quietly and judiciously shelved ; nor is the slightest 
attempt made to show how sin came into this world. 
No attempt, moreover, is made to define sin, or to dwell 
upon its malignant nature. Particular sins, or rather 
sinful dispositions, such as anger, ingratitude, injustice, 
.worldliness, are enumerated, and some are classified. 


" Endeavors to get others' wealth, evil thoughts of 
others, unbelief in God and a future world, are three 
sins of the understanding. Unkind speeches, lies, 
scandal about others, and improper conversation are 
four sins of the tongue. Theft, improper envy, and 
whoredom are three sins of the body." There is a 
tendency manifest to trace all these varieties of sins 
and sinful dispositions to ignorance rather than to in- 
herent depravity, and exhortations having for their 
object our freedom from its control are by no means 
few and far between. " Deliver yourselves from the 
darkness of ignorance. Ye souls ! arise ; wake up 
from the sleep of ignorance and learn wisdom from a 
fitting teacher." The fact that sin is punished in this 
world and shall be punished in that which is to come is 
recognized, while its reflex demoralizing influence upon 
the sinner is pointed out. " The Supreme decrees to 
all its subjects rewards and punishments which they 
deserve." " The man who practises sin obtains dis- 
grace and reaps miserable fruits." " The man who, 
uninfluenced by vice, thinks sin, speaks sin, and prac- 
tises sin, loses thereby all his good qualities." The 
" Brahmo Dharma " does not appear thoroughly 
emancipated from the notion of diverse heavens, placed 
one above another in an ascending scale, and diverse 
hills placed one below another in a descending scale, 
brought out into bold relief in the Upanishads. ' ' Foolish 
men obtain those worlds which are without joy, and are 
covered with dense darkness." Nothing like an ade- 
quate idea of the intense malignity of sin and the aw- 
ful character of the punishment in store for it is to be 
met in any Brahma production, or in any book apart 
from the Bible. 

6. From the views of sin presented in the book, the 

50 BRAHirOISiT, 

transition to what it says about salvation is of course 
natural and eas} r . Nothing displays the vacillating 
character of its creed so well as the theory of salvation 
it holds up. That theory is in some respects an exact 
copy of the one embodied in the Upanishads. Sal- 
vation is based on knowledge, the knowledge of Brahma, 
as all our calamities are traced to ignorance ; and sac- 
rifices and ceremonies are represented as matters of sub- 
ordinate importance. " The man who knows not the 
imperishable Supreme, though he sacrifice in the world, 
many thousand years, will not obtain lasting benefits. ' ' 
They who know the Supreme Brahma become immor- 
tal ; all others suffer misery. " They surely know 
that ancient and most excellent Supreme Brahma, who 
recognize him as the breath of the breath, the eye of 
the eye, the ear of the ear, and the mind of the mind.'' 3 
This sentence is thoroughly pantheistic, and reminds 
us of similar utterances in the Upanishads ; but the 
drift of all these passages is plain— to know Brahma is 
eternal life. But how is this blessed knowledge to be 
attained ? Here again the stereotyped method of the 
Upanishads is pointed out. The devotee or the 
candidate for Brahma knowledge must look for an ac- 
credited or wise teacher, and spend some time under 
proper tuition. He must then retire from the world 
and betake himself to hermit solitude ; and under the 
shade of a giant tree in a sequestered forest he must 
meditate, his head erect, his passions subdued, his body 
unaffected by the extremes of cold and heat, and his 
mind concentrated on the Supreme. One element is 
added in the Brahmo Dharma to the method of 
obtaining deliverance from the trammels of ignorance 
and its miseries pointed out in the venerable records so 
often alluded to — viz., worship. " Not by many fair 


words, nor by a good memory, nor by hearing oft may 
he (the Supreme Brahma) be known. The worship- 
per who prays to him obtains him. The Supreme 
Spirit reveals himself to such a worshipper. " This is 
evidently, a modern notion grafted on the old trunk. 
It is strange that the Brahmo Dharma ignores in 
its scheme of salvation the very existence of sin, which 
it in other places points out ; and it does not dwell on 
the necessity of repentance. 

7. We shall conclude our review or expose of the 
doctrines inculcated in the " Brahmo Dharma " with a 
word about the future life into which it presents an in- 
sight. Like the varied systems of philosophy which 
have prevailed in the country, it retains the doctrine 
of transmigration. " The man who is ignorant and 
impure gains not the rank of Brahma, but returns 
into the world. The wise man having gained that 
dignity is born no more." The varied hells and 
heavens enumerated in the ancient scriptures of the 
country are posited here also ; but the degrees of pun- 
ishment and reward, or misery and happiness realized 
within their precincts, are all terminable. The idea of 
eternal punishment is emphatically repudiated, as well 
as the eternity of happiness attainable in the varied 
heavens through which the souls of the good pass 
before their final emancipation from the thraldom of 
repeated births and deaths. But the doctrine of ab- 
sorption, one of the most characteristic doctrines of 
ancient Yeclantism, is not retained ; and eternal abode 
with, not in, God is the idea brought out, though by no 
means very clearly. Some years ago a question was 
raised fitted to indicate a new phase in the time-hal- 
lowed doctrine of absorption. The question is this : 
Does the soul when merged in the Deity after a series 


of lives and deaths retain its individual consciousness 
within His all-embracing consciousness ? The parties by 
whom this question was raised seemed inclined, in op- 
position to the ancient philosophy of the country, ac- 
cording to which conscious existence in any form is an 
evil to be deprecated, to answer it in the affirmative. 
It is possible — nay, even probable, that if the ancient 
doctrine of absorption were altered so as to insure the 
retention of the individual consciousness of the soul 
when absorbed in the Deity, it would occupy a promi- 
nent place among the shibboleths of modern Brahmo- 
ism of the Adi Somaj school. 

Let us conclude this chapter with a brief reference to 
one or two of the important conclusions to which the 
foregoing synopsis of the contents of the book under 
review, the ' ' Brahmo Dharma, ' ' is fitted to bring us. 

This system, it is evident, is like the one now mak- 
ing progress under the banner of the Ayra Somaj, a 
compromise between ideas antiquated and obsolete, 
and such as have a dash of freshness about them. It 
may be called Pantheistic Theism or Theistic Panthe- 
ism, and under either of these queer names it is a 
heterogeneous mixture of theories that cannot be 
brought together without an explosion. It made a 
little progress so long as education was at a very low 
ebb in the country ; but in proportion as knowledge 
advanced its grotesque character was perceived, and all 
confidence in it shaken. The progressive members of 
the Brahmo Somaj outgrew its many-sided, self -con- 
tradictory creed, and seceded ; while those who were 
determined to shut their eyes to its absurdities made 
rapid progress in the wrong direction, until one of its 
most enlightened champions was not ashamed to affirm 
that " Hinduism is the best of all prevailing religions." 


For years it lias been dwindling into insignificance, 
beyond the pale of the sympathy of the educated 
community ; but as it has an endowed church, its ser- 
vices are regularly kept up in its fine long hall. There 
is, however, nothing stirring about them, though the 
singing is excellent and the officiating minister is a 
scholarly as well as a good man. The Arya Somaj of 
Pandit Daya Nand will share a similar fate. Its up- 
holders are as a class behind the least enlightened of 
the alumni of the colleges and the schools of Bengal ; 
but education is making progress where its temporary 
ascendancy among particular persons is being estab- 
lished. Very soon will the people outgrow its hetero- 
geneous mongrel creed, and as nobody has yet come 
forward to endow it, as Babu Debendra Nath Tagore 
has done in the case of the Adi Somaj, its complete 
collapse it does not need the prescience of a prophet to 

Our second remark is that the unbounded gratula- 
tion with which we are apt to look upon parties whom 
we regard as not far from the kingdom of God is often 
misplaced. We cannot but rejoice when we see per- 
sons of superior intellect and independent thought 
brought step by step, by advancing light, toward the 
truth as it is in Jesus. But we ought to rejoice with 
trembling, as a little procrastination on their part, a little 
hesitation to make the necessary sacrifice, a little com- 
promise of principle, a little attempt to stifle conviction 
or play with conscience may lead to our buoyant and 
exulting hopes to be dashed to the ground. There was 
boundless joy in mission churches when Rajah Ram 
Mohun Roy paid a few fashionable compliments to our 
Lord, and hopes of his speedy conversion were enter- 
tained and made public in varieties of ways. But the 


Rajah died outside the pale of the Christian Church as 
a weak, vacillating professor of Unitarianism ; and the 
association he laid the foundation of has almost, 
throughout the entire period of its existence, been anti- 
Christian. It is always a dangerous thing to hold the 
truth in unrighteousness ; and it is our duty, when we 
see persons loitering before the gate of the Church and 
led by conceit or want of the spirit of religious earnest- 
ness to refuse to enter in, to toll the tocsin of alarm, 
and not come out with congratulations and encomiums 
which vanity and ambition may convert into stepping- 
stones to absolute spiritual ruin. 



The Adi Somaj or Conservative Brahmoism, thus 
reorganized in 1852, showed very little vitality till the 
year 1858, when a young man of an enthusiastic tem- 
perament and a fertile mind joined it, and infused a 
new life into its veins. This young man was Babu 
Keshub Chunder Sen, then in the twenty-first year of 
his age, destined to be the third, and in some respects 
the ablest, and in all respects the most enthusiastic, 
leader of Brahmoism. The history of the movement 
for many years has been the history of this remarkable 
man, and therefore a short biographical sketch pre- 
senting the salient features of his early life must pre- 
cede our account of the reforms with which his name 
must ever be associated. For the information to be 
given under this head we are indebted to himself, his 
own accounts of his early life presented in two specially 
of those of his addresses in England which appear col- 
lected in Miss Collet's book entitled " Keshub Chun- 
der Sen's English Visit," his Town Hall lecture, " Am 
I a Prophet ?" delivered in 1879, and a paper entitled 
" Retrospects of Life " in the Theistic Quarterly 
Review for January, 1880. There are discrepancies 
in these accounts of a very serious character ; but these 
we shall pass over or try to reconcile in our sketch. 

Keshub Chunder Sen, grandson of the well-known 


Babu Eam Cornel Sen, was born in 1838. A tender 
scion of a Vaishnava family, he was carefully brought 
up amid the ideas, pure and impure, characteristic of 
the sect to which his parents belonged. Like boys and 
girls in general, he believed in the religion of his fore- 
fathers without any inquiry whatever, and strove to 
be faithful to its injunctions, specially of a ritualistic 
type. But fortunately for himself, he was early sent 
to the Presidency college for his education, and the 
knowledge he acquired within its walls destroyed his 
hereditary faith in the national religion ; but it gave 
nothing to fill " the void ' ' thus created. The result 
was that ' ' for two or three years' ' he regarded the 
concerns of his soul with perfect indifference and 
apathy, though he was evidently determined to allow 
nothing to tempt him out of the path of moral recti- 
tude. But the period of apathy gave place to a period 
of anxiety. A sense of sin and guilt was awakened 
within him and a longing to be saved was generated. 
All tendency to despondency was checked by a 
heavenly voice which seemed to say, i 6 No, sinner, 
thou hast hope." This first lesson, learned under the 
direct teaching of the Spirit of God, led him to culti- 
vate the habit of prayer. Nor was he required to 
struggle long in prayer, for God revealed Himself to 
him in a mysterious way and led him to peace and joy. 
He affirms again and again that in his struggles after 
the joys of salvation he was helped neither by man nor 
by book, but by God Himself, who ultimately brought 
him out of darkness into His marvellous fight. 

But he does acknowledge his indebtedness to the 
Bible and other good books which helped him on in 
the path of righteousness, if they did not usher him 
into it. In his lecture on "Am I a Prophet ?" he 


refers to a vision which brought him into what might 
be called a personal contact with John the Baptist, 
Jesus of Nazareth, and Paul, and the influence which 
emanated from their example led to his renunciation 
of self and consecration of his powers of heart and mind 
to the service of his Maker. But the influences brought 
to bear on him, throughout his career as a reformer, if 
not during this most critical period of his life, are con- 
fessedly varied ; and as their heterogeneous character 
explains his own heterogeneous character, and the 
heterogeneous character of his creed, they must be set 
forth in his own words : " To me the Bible is a bless- 
ed home to which I often love to retire after my re- 
freshing devotions, and I read and meditate over the 
Old Testament and the New. From such perusal I 
derive much help, much sympathy, and much comfort, 
much profound response to what I cherish as the most 
sacred treasure of my being. The Bible is the word of 
life indeed. It seems as if the Bible was written for 
me specially. In the Shastras of my own country, 
in the Upanishads, in the Grita, and in the Bha- 
gavat, I feel as if I am breathing my own natural 
atmosphere. It is to me another home replete with 
dear and hallowed associations of national antiquity, 
full of the fragrance of a piety as original as it is true 
and congenial to me. It is as impossible for me to 
cease to be Hindu in spirit and aspiration, as it is im- 
possible for me to change my skin. The Upani- 
shads and the Bhagavat furnish the staple food of 
my being. I may as soon cease to contemplate on 
them as lose my spiritual existence. Buddhism is to 
me also divine. The discipline and ordinances of 
Sakya Siddartha have a strange authority and attrac- 
tion for my nature. In meditativeness, in self-conge- 

64 BEAiniOISAT. 

niality, in peacefulness, in mental illumination and inter- 
nal peace, Gautama is my ideal, and from Buddhism I 
sincerely declare I derive spiritual help which no other 
religion can afford me. With some of the sentiments 
of Hafez, Shekh Sadi, and Moulana Roum I have come 
in contact ; and what is there to equal their beauty, 
their depth, their tenderness, their intoxicated spiritu- 
ality ? Therefore I say my glorious religion has 
opened out to me the scriptures and the spiritual treas- 
ures of all nations." (Theistic Quarterly Review for 
1830, p. 17.) 

We are bound to state that in his retrospect of the 
varied moral forces by which his religious ideas have 
been generated and matured, Mr. Sen has not been 
thoroughly frank. He has omitted all mention of the 
infidel authors of Europe by whose waitings he has 
been inspired even more powerfully than by the frag- 
ments of the sacred literature of the world he enumer- 
ates. His jDublic utterances may be classed under two 
heads, earlier and later, those with which he identified 
himself during the first few years of Iris career as a re- 
former, and those by wmich it has been characterized 
during the last few years. In his earlier utterances 
we clearly see the impress or the formative influence of 
such writers as Theodore Parker and Francis William 
Newman. From this influence even his later utter- 
ances are not entirely free ; but these appear colored 
to some extent by the ideahstic speculations of modern 
Germany, the mysticism of such writers as Sweden- 
borg, as well as the philosophic vagaries of ancient 
India. It is an indisputable fact that Mr. Sen is a bor- 
rower rather than an original thinker ; and no one can 
read the almost innumerable pamphlets, to which his 
own name or the imprimatur of his Association is 


affixed ? without concluding that he borrowed more from 
foreign than from indigenous sources. 

Mr. Sen's best friends admit that his utterances, 

though eloquent and even imposing, have been charac- 
terized by a good deal of inconsistency, incoherence, 
and wildness. But there are, we think, certain 
lines of thought or characteristic ideas by which they 
may as a body be, to a great extent, harmonized. To 
these ideas, the salient features of the Brahmo creed, 
special attention should be called. But before we do 
so, Ave must briefly allude to the circumstances which 
led to his secession from the Adi or Conservative Somaj. 

Babu Keshub Chunder Sen, after what he calls his 
' ' conversion, " longed for what may be called the ' i com- 
munion of saints," as well as for opportunities of 
spreading truth among his educated countrymen. To 
gratify this double longing of his soul, he established 
a small club called the " Good- will Fraternity," the 
members of which used to meet regularly to have relig- 
ious conversation with him, as well as to listen to his 
extempore discourses on topics fitted to stir up the best 
aspirations of their souls. But while thus engaged he 
thought of joining a church ; but till a Brahmo tract 
fell accidentally into his hands he did not know that a 
church exactly suited to his longings existed in his own 
country and city. This pamphlet brought him to a de- 
cision, and in 1858, when only twenty years old, Mr. 
Sen joined the Somaj founded by Rajah Ram Mohun 
Roy and reorganized by Babu Debendra Nath Tagore. 

His accession to the moribund Somaj was in reality 
the accession of life. A new life was infused into its 
services, its missionary spirit, and its philanthropic ac- 
tivity. Every department of the work in the associa- 
tion was revolutionized, especially that having for its 


object the propagation of its creed. The Somaj had, 
properly speaking, no missionaries ; and the few who 
did a trifling amount of proselyting work had secular 
appointments, and could therefore devote to it their 
hours of leisure and overwork only. Mr. Sen main- 
tained the correct principle, that men of ability and 
attainment should be set apart for missionary work ; 
and with a view to set a good example he threw up his 
own employment in the Bank of Bengal. He also es- 
tablished a little association in his own house, called 
the Sang at Sakha, and exerted such a powerful influ- 
ence over the members that several of them followed his 
example, and devoted themselves exclusively to the 
work of propagating the new faith. In 1861 he him- 
self visited Krishnaghar, and subsequently he created a 
sensation among educated natives in Madras and Bom- 
bay. In 1863 various towns in East Bengal were 
visited by one of the missionaries thus separated, and 
in 1866 the new doctrine was preached in the Punjab 
by another. But Mr. Sen wished to see reform intro- 
duced in another direction. All the members of the 
Somaj were by no means men of an earnest type or 
thoroughgoing reformers. Most of them were some- 
what like the English reformers in the time of Eliza- 
beth, who had quietly said mass during the reign of 
"Bloody Mary," and who, if the reigning sovereign 
had been supplanted by the unfortunate Queen of 
Scots, would have quietly said mass again. They at- 
tended the Brahmo services and Brahmo meetings, but 
they observed strictly the rules of their respective 
castes, and were in no way separated by any discernible 
line of demarcation from their idolatrous countrymen. 
His influence had a share in leading Babu Debendra 
jSTath Tagore to cast away his sacred thread, to remove 


the family idol from its sanctuary in his house, and to 
celebrate his daughter's marriage according to a ritual 
of theistic rather than idolatrous significance. 

The activity of this enthusiastic champion of Brah- 
moism was apparently boundless. He issued a series 
of tracts in English to influence his educated country- 
men in favor of the new faith, delivered a series of 
Sunday lectures with the same object in view, and laid 
the foundation of a Brahmo college which for want of 
funds he had to give up not long after his secession 
from the association he was now doing so much to vitalize. 

In 1862 Mr. Sen's services were formally acknowl- 
edged, and he was made an " Achargi" or Minister of 
the Somaj. On this occasion he took a step which led 
to his temporary banishment from his paternal abode. 
He allowed his wife to dine with the inmates of Babu 
Debendra Eath Tagore's house, and so deliberately in- 
fringed the rules of his caste. But he and his wife 
were not baptized, and consequently their separation 
from their home was temporary, not final. For about 
four years after Ins ordination the two leaders of the 
Brahmo Somaj, Messrs. Tagoreand Sen, worked in har- 
mony, though they differed from each other in temper- 
ament and in religious views. Mr. Tagore, though a 
noble example of fidelity and self-sacrifice, was inclined 
to be conservative, and so unwilling to work in changes 
of a violent character. Mr. Sen, on the contrary, was 
of an ardent and impulsive temperament, and could not 
put up with what he considered serious irregularities. 
Particularly he was opposed to allowing persons who 
had not shaken off their caste privileges and badges to 
conduct divine service or to officiate as ministers of 
the new creed. But though Mr. Tagore had himself 
thrown aside his sacred thread, and opposed the caste 


system both theoretically and practically, he was not 
prepared to go all lengths, even in this matter, with his 
youthful and impulsive companion. The consequence 
was a series of disagreements resulting in a disruption. 
In 1865 Mr. Sen presented to his older and more con- 
servative colleague an ultimatum, stating that if the 
following propositions were not acceded to, both he 
and some of his friends would be compelled to secede. 
The propositions are stated below as presented in Dr. 
Jardine's paper on the Brahmo Somaj in the volumin- 
ous Report of the Allahabad Missionary Conference. 

1 . That the external signs of caste distinctions — such 
as the Brahmanical thread — should be no longer used. 

2. That none but Brahmos of sufficient ability and 
good moral character, who lived consistently with this 
profession, should be allowed to conduct the services of 
the Somaj. 

3. That nothing should be said in the Somaj expres- 
sive of hatred or contempt for other religions. 

The ultimatum was rejected, and Babu Keshub 
Chunder Sen seceded along with a few friends, and laid 
the foundation of the Progressive Somaj or the Brahmo 
Somaj of India. His secession was the departure of 
life from the Somaj. It broke the heart of Mr. 
Tagore, according to statements put forward by the 
progressive party, and ultimately led to his retirement 
to the Hills. The Somaj is somewhat like an en- 
dowed but dead church — it has a name to live, but it 
is dead ! 

This schism will have to be referred to when another 
of a more portentous nature and larger proportions is 
treated of. It is not therefore necessary to enlarge 
upon it here ; suffice it to say that among its causes we 
see a tendency to a democratic form of government 


occupying a prominent place, along with a desire to 
push religious and social reforms with ardent by but no 
means indiscreet zeal. 

Since the organization of his church, Mr. Sen has 
had one great object in view, and he may fairly be de- 
scribed as a man of one idea. This is the fascinating 
idea which took possession of the calmer intellect of 
Rajah Ram Mohun Roy — the idea of a religious unifica- 
tion. There are some truths which form the essence of 
each and every one of the jarring religions of the 
world. Within the narrow circle of these essential 
truths, the varied systems of human faith, so prone to 
wage an interminable war with one another, may meet 
on terms of perfect amity and good- will. While we 
hear nothing but the din and clamor of war beyond, 
there may be eternal peace within. Here there is the 
essence of all religions, the religion of religions, the 
creed of creeds. Under the banner of this cream of 
religious truths, all the religions of the world may 
unite or coalesce into one faith. Let this creed be 
adopted and proclaimed, and the world will witness a 
church within which the conflicting religions of the 
world will be unified. This religious unification is the 
great object which Mr. Sen, in pursuance of the relig- 
ious policy laid down by Rajah Ram Mohun Roy, 
works night and day to realize. 

But Mr. Sen is aware of the almost illimitable vast- 
ness of the enterprise, and therefore for the time being 
he wishes to limit his exertions to a fractional portion 
of the work which appears to him so necessary and at 
the same time so feasible. The unification of the 
almost innumerable religions of the world may not be 
an accomplished fact till some preliminary minor uni- 
fications are realized. The unification of nations must 


pave the way to the unification of races, and that to 
the unification of humanity in general. In the same 
manner the unification of the varied religions of differ- 
ent countries must precede the unification of all the 
forms of faith prevalent on the surface of the globe. 
Let the preliminary work be done in India, and when 
that is accomplished a base of operations for its further 
extension will be afforded. Mr. Sen is therefore at 
present anxious to raise a national church in which the 
three great religions of the country — Hinduism, Mo- 
hammedanism, and Christianity — may be welded into 
one homogeneous system. Mr. Sen's object is broader 
than what ISTanak tried to see realized. While that 
great reformer contemplated the amalgamation of Hin- 
duism and Mohammedanism, Mr. Sen labors to see 
these indigenous systems of religion united to each 
other, and merged into a common creed along with an 
exotic and a dominant faith. 

To realize this great object a simple creed is needed, 
and Mr. Sen's creed, stated in different terms in differ- 
ent places and under different circumstances, is simple 
enough. About a year before he left for England he 
delivered a lecture in the Town Hall, Calcutta, entitled 
"The Future Church of India," subsequently pub- 
lished, as ah his Town Hall lectures have, from time to 
time, been, in pamphlet form. In it, after having 
shown how the popular idolatry of the country and its 
philosophic pantheism may be merged into a national 
theism, he proceeds " to evolve the harmony of doc- 
trines. ' ' And this he does by simply reiterating the two 
precepts into which the Lord Jesus Christ compresses 
" the whole of the law and the prophets." " JSTever," 
he adds, " has the scheme of true religion been so sim- 
ply and exhaustively expounded. Yerily in these two 


precepts is to be found the substance of all the laws 
and dispensations of God designed to guide us. " In 
what he says in the paragraph from which these sen- 
tences are transcribed he evidently confounds doctrines 
with precepts, theoretical with practical religion. But 
perhaps his object is to point to his creed as em- 
bodied in what our Lord represents as the sum and 
substance of the law, or as one to be enucleated there- 
from. He recognizes, of course, the existence of sin, 
and speaks of a " gospel," " the gospel of the Prodi- 
gal Son," intending evidently to affirm that when the 
sinner repents and returns to God his sins are forgiven, 
his heart is changed, and he is enabled to love God and 
love man. 

In his numerous addresses in England, where he was 
received with even greater honor than had been ac- 
corded to Rajah Ram Mohun Roy, he adopts Theodore 
Parker's phraseology, and calls his faith the " absolute 
religion." But his absolute religion differs in some 
respects from that of the American Unitarian, and 
consists only of two doctrines — the fatherhood of God 
and the brotherhood of Man. All ideas of practical 
religion — repentance, faith, radical change of heart, 
growth in grace, maturity of spiritual manhood here 
and hereafter — are to be evolved out of these essential 
principles. In these discourses he gives the greatest 
prominence to the idea of the unity of the Godhead, 
and deduces from that unity his characteristic idea of 
the unity of the Church. He seems, however, to over- 
look the fact that these two ideas, the watchwords of 
his system, are preached in the Bible, in a sense some- 
what different from what he attaches to them. 

Again, in his Town Hall Lecture of 1876, 
entitled " Our Faith and Experience," he presents 


his creed in another form, and that borrowed from 
Theodore Parker, who, as is well known, was in the 
habit of preaching as great discoveries the three admis- 
sions of Kant — God, Immortality, and Duty. After 
identifying the Spirit- God of ancient India with the 
Holy Spirit of the Bible, Mr. Sen says : u Simple 
and short is the creed of the Theistic Church in India. 
Its entire faith may be evolved out of this natural 
consciousness of the living Spirit- God. Let us now 
proceed to analyze the theist's creed. There are 
only three essential doctrines in theism — the doctrine of 
God, the doctrine of immortality, and the doctrine of 
conscience. These three constitute the theist's creed. 
And yet they are not three doctrines, but one doctrine. 
They are the constituent elements of one idea, and must 
be accepted or rejected together. Whoever believes in 
the infinite and living Spirit -God must perforce accept, 
as a necessary part of that doctrine, the immortality 
and accountability of the soul." 

Babu Keshub Chunder Sen's views of God and of the 
relation in which he stands to nature and man have a 
dash of pantheism about them, and a clear insight 
into them must be secured ere his varied utterances and 
actions can be properly understood, explained, and har- 
monized. These are presented in his celebrated lect- 
ures on " Jesus Christ, Europe and Asia," and on 
i ' Great Men' ' — the lectures which raised him as if by 
a magical power from obscurity to fame. These two 
lectures, though apparently on two different and un- 
connected topics, form one continuous discourse, the 
latter being a supplement to or an explanation of the 
former. Mr. Sen has always been in the habit of 
speaking of Christ in terms to which a Christian would 
gladly resort in his attempts to express his loyalty and 


devotion to the Saviour. But the terms as emploj^ed 
by Mr. Sen have a meaning very different indeed from 
what they bear when uttered by a Christian. His lect- 
ure on " Jesus Christ, Europe and Asia," taken by 
itself, would lead, and actually did lead, to his being 
recognized as one not far from the kingdom of Gocl ; 
but as interpreted by the subsequently delivered dis- 
course on 1 1 Great Men, ' ' it would only represent him 
as a disciple of those rationalists of modern pantheistic 
schools, who look upon all men as incarnations, and 
Christ the crowning incarnation. In his lecture on 
1 i Great Men' ' he represents God as immanent in nature 
in these significant words : " Behold the Supreme 
Creator and Kuler of the Universe — infinite in wisdom, 
power, and goodness — immanent in matter. " "If the 
world is real, it is real because of the divine power 
which animates it, and constitutes its immanent vital- 
ity. ' ' But God dwells in man more thoroughly and in 
a larger measure than in nature or material objects. 
" Certainly," says Mr. Sen in his famous lecture, 
"every man is an incarnation." "True incarnation 
is not, as popular theology defines it, the absolute per- 
fection of the divine nature embodied in human form.' ' 
" It means the Spirit of God manifest in human 
flesh." He asks, "Are we not conscious, that, how- 
ever sinful we may be, God dwells in each of us, inhe- 
rent in our constitution V ' But great men ' ' are greater 
miracles than ordinary men. " They are ' ' superhuman, 
and, I may add, supernatural." " God puts into their 
constitution something superhuman and divine. The 
prophet is both God and man. He is God- man. He 
is an incarnation of God." All this is Carlylish in 
some respects, but the meaning is plain. All men are 
miracles and incarnations, born to be driven as herds of 


cattle by great men, who are greater miracles and in- 
carnations, and among whom Mr. Sen, in his opinion, 
occupies a by no means contemptible place. Christ is 
the greatest among his chosen few men of genius, 
guides of humanity ; and He is therefore the greatest 
miracle and incarnation. There is, however, no essen- 
tial or generic difference between Him and the hum- 
blest man living ! 

This is Mr. Sen's Christology developed in the earli- 
est as well as the latest of his writings. But he speaks 
of Christ as his Master, his Saviour, his Lord, and his 
Life. Is he not then on a par with orthodox Chris- 
tians in his conceptions of Christ ? But the Christ 
whom he thus adores is not the historical Christ of the 
Gospels. The historical Christ, though the greatest of 
the great men he idolizes in a style characteristically 
Carlylish, is not worthy of the homage he pays to his 
idol Christ ; and Him, therefore, he disposes of in hur- 
ried sentences like the following : " The Lord is my 
light and my life ; He is my creed and my salvation ; 
I need nothing else. I honor Christ as my Father's 
beloved son, and I honor all other prophets and mar- 
tyrs, but I love my God above all" (" English Yisit," 
p. 40). " He never demanded worship or adoration — 
that is due to God, the Creator of the Universe" 
(" English Yisit," p. 240). " I believe that every dis- 
ciple, every follower of Christ, must be a Unitarian" 
( ' ' English Yisit, " p. 310). The broad facts of His life, 
His miracles, are all idealized, and the culminating 
wonder of His life, His resurrection, is represented in 
his lecture on " God-Yision,' ' delivered in 1880, that is, 
in one of his latest utterances, as spiritual rather than 
corporeal. " "When I say Christ is there, do I mean 
the bodily Christ % No. Science tells me that the 


body is altogether decomposed in a few days after 
death. Surely the body cannot rise up ; yet my Christ 
is there. Ah ! it is the Spirit Christ who is there re- 
clining on the bosom of the Lord " (p. 14). Again, the 
resurrection of Christ is said in this very lecture on 
" God-Vision" to be characteristically similar to that of 
Moses and other prophets. " Every prophet who came 
down from heaven, as an emanation of spirit -force from 
the Almighty, must go back to Him, as Christ did, 
after fulfilling his mission. Where is Moses ? Dead 
and gone ! The evangelists record a strange and won- 
derful scene in the life of Christ. I mean his transfig- 
uration. Marvellous vision indeed ! Moses and Elias 
on either side of Jesus, as he stood on a high mountain, 
and they were talking with him ! ' His raiment 
became shining, exceeding white as snow. ' The soul 
is lost in amazement as it looks upon this picture. It 
is said that eye-witnesses saw the event. What does 
all this mean ? Are we to believe that Moses, after so 
many centuries, returned to this world ? . . . Xo 
flesh, no bones do I see, but three spirits, side by side, 
three noble souls holding communion with each other" 
(p. 15). 

A broad line of demarcation is drawn between the 
historical Christ of the Gospels and the ideal Christ 
whom Mr. Sen adores as his Master and Saviour. " I 
thus draw a line of demarcation between the visible 
and outward Christ and the invisible and inward Christ ; 
between the Christ of images and pictures, and the 
Christ that grows in the heart ; between dead Christ 
and living Christ. Jesus is not a proposition to be 
believed, nor one outward figure to be seen and adored, 
but simply a spirit to be loved, a spirit of obedience to 
God that must be incorporated into our spiritual being' ' 


(" English Visit, ' ' p. 244). < ' And what is Christ \ By 
Christ I understand one who said, ' Thy will be done/ 
and when I talk of Christ, I simply mean the spirit of 
loyalty to God, the one spirit of absolute determined- 
ness and preparedness to say at all times and in all cir- 
cumstances, ' Thy will be done, not mine' " (" English 
Visit," p. 248). One more quotation from the same 
book will suffice : " There is something in the Bible 
which has staggered many who stand outside the pale 
of orthodox Christianity, and made them inimical to 
Christ : I mean His sublime egotism and self-assertion. 
It is true, Christ says, ' Love God and love man, and 
ye shall inherit eternal life ; ' but does He not also say, 
' 1 am the way, I am the light of the world ; ' does 
He not say, ' Come unto me all ye that are weary and 
heavy laden, and I will give you rest ' ? He who said 
that the only way to eternal life is the love of God 
and the love of man, also says, i I am the way. ' Jesus 
Christ, then, truly analyzed, means love of God and love 
of man" (p. 240). 

But it may be said that his later utterances are in 
greater sympathy with the conceptions of Christ en- 
shrined in Christian belief. To these then let us go. 
In 1878, or about four years ago, he delivered a lecture 
in the Town Hall, Calcutta, under the imposing title, 
" India asks, Who is Christ ?"■ — meaning by India, as 
he always does on such occasions, half a dozen Brahmos. 
The hero who figures in this discourse is his ideal 
Christ, not the Christ of the Gospels. The doctrine or 
fact of the pre- existence of Christ is thus explained : 
' Did not Christ say that He existed long before Abra- 
ham lived ? Did He not say distinctly, ' Before Abra- 
ham was, I am.' How then, and in what shape, did 
He exist in heaven ? As an idea, as a plan of life, as 


a predetermined dispensation yet to he realized, as 
purity of character, not concrete hut ahstract, as light 
not yet manifested" The doctrine of incarnation is 
couched in these words : " There is an uncreated 
Christ as .also the created Christ, the idea of Christ and 
the incarnate Son drawing all his vitality and inspira- 
tion from the Father." Christ's declarations relative 
to His essential unity with His Father are of course 
pantheistically explained, while His " religion' ' is 
said to be " pure, natural, and perfect idealism. ' ' He 
was not a materialist, but a true idealist. " He saw 
His own Spirit, and He saw the Divine Spirit also, 
and in deep communion He found the two identified. 
He felt He was but a drop lost altogether in the vast 
ocean of the Divinity. ' ' He seems brimful of devotion 
to Christ. " My Christ, my sweet Christ, the neck- 
lace of my soul, the brightest jewel of my heart. For 
twenty years have I cherished Him in my inmost soul, 
in my miserable heart. ' ' Can a Christian say more % 
But the point of the declaration is blunted the moment 
we " analyze" his " sweet Christ." " If you have in 
you the Spirit of truth and filial devotion and self- 
sacrifice, that is Christ." " He will come to you as 
self-surrender, as asceticism, as yoga, as the life of God 
in man, as obedient and humble sonship. For Christ is 
nothing more. ' ' 

This lecture proves to a demonstration, not merely 
that the Christ to whom Mr. Sen's enthusiastic hom- 
age is paid is only a series of ideas, but that his theism 
is tinged with pantheism, notwithstanding his declara- 
tions representing that system as " blasphemous" 
and " detestable." The difference between his pan- 
theism and that of the Upanishads and the Ved antic 
school tends to establish our conclusion, that he derives 


his inspiration from foreign sources rather than from 
those which he carefully enumerates. He believes in 
dualism, in nature and in man ; but he is prone to rep- 
resent God, not as nature and humanity in all their en- 
tireness, but as " the immanent vitality" of nature 
and humanity. There is something essentially divine 
in man, and religious progress depends on its recogni- 
tion and development. "Who needs to be told that this 
is a foreign idea, not one derived from indigenous 
sources 1 

Again, when Mr. Sen represents all that is good in 
Buddha and other reformers and prophets as the off- 
shoot of the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them, the 
Christian world need not dance or leap for joy. If 
Christ analyzed means love to God and man, the spirit 
of obedience and self-surrender, all that is good in 
humanity cannot but be traced to His abiding presence 
hi the heart. But how are we to reconcile the two 
statements which make Him the brightest emanation 
from God, and therefore a concrete element of divine 
nature, and the abstract spirit of self- surrender ? On 
some future occasion the reconciliation will be effected 
by the admirably fertile imagination of the great 
Indian Reformer. 

Meanwhile let us speak of the bases of his creed. In 
Brahmo statements of these, there has been, as has 
been shown in a masterly manner in the second of Mr. 
Dyson's very able tracts on "Brahmo Dogmas," a 
great deal of vacillation and inconsistency. As has 
been stated in a former paper, the Vedas were held up 
in 1845 as the main if not the sole standard of theol- 
ogy and morality. But in 1855 the infallibility of 
these documents was abandoned, and the " volume of 
nature" took their place. All the truths of the new 


faith were derived, mediately and inferentially, or by 
processes of induction and deduction, from the phe- 
nomena of nature. But in 1860 Mr. Sen published a 
series of tracts declaratory of the uselessness of reason- 
ing processes in matters of religion, and indicatory of 
a third source of religious knowledge, the ' ' Rock of 
Intuition." It was assumed that religious truth was 
made known immediately and instinctively to every 
man by a faculty of moral perception in him, a faculty 
which led him to cognize religious truth as naturally 
as his eyes led him to see the light of the sun. This 
faculty, however, was ignored in Mr. Sen's lecture on 
" Great Men," delivered in 1866, and in it three exter- 
nal sources of information were pointed out — viz. , na- 
ture, the writings of great men, and inspiration. ' ' The 
universe exhibits on all sides innumerable works of de- 
sign and beauty, of adaptation and method, which man 
cannot explain except by referring them to an intelli- 
gent First Cause, the Creator of this vast universe." 
' - But is God manifested only in matter ? There is 
another revelation : there is God in history. God 
manifests Himself in history through great men." 
" In inspiration the supreme soul is presented to us in 
our finite souls, and his saving light falls directly upon 
the eye of faith." 

In his lecture on the " Future Church," delivered in 
1863, or not long before his departure for England, he 
speaks of the unity of God and a trinity of manifesta- 
tions in these words : " The future church will uphold 
the absolute infinity and unity of the Divine Creator, 
and will suffer no created thing or being to usurp His 
sovereignty. It will worship Him alone, and thor- 
oughly set its face against every form of creature- 
worship. But while admitting the unity of the Divin- 


ity, the Future Church will recognize a trinity of divine 
manifestations. God manifests Himself to us through 
external nature, through the inner spirit, and through 
moral greatness impersonated in man." Here again 
inspiration in the sense of direct communication of 
truth by God is ignored. It is, however, clearly brought 
out in his English addresses. " If we want knowl- 
edge, to whom do we go ? Not to this book, not to 
that book, but to the Lord directly and immediately, 
and there is nothing that steps in between us and our 
Father." Two of the other sources are also men- 
tioned : " Abandoning the infallibility of the Yedas, 
the Brahmos appealed to nature, to their own hearts, 
to their own religious intuitions in order to establish 
themselves upon a purely Theistic basis. ' ' The third 
source, the writings of great men, or the religious lit- 
erature of the world, and perhaps its secular literature 
also, is implied, if not directly mentioned, in several of 
his statements. 

The four sources of religious knowledge mentioned 
categorically are Nature, Intuition, the writings of 
Great Men, and Inspiration. There is a short passage 
in his " English Visit" which shows, along with a little 
confusion of ideas, that the greatest stress is laid on the 
last source. " They (Brahmos) then took a broader 
and more unexceptionable basis ; they went into their 
own hearts in order to hear the voice of Gocl, and they 
went forth throughout the amplitudes of nature in 
order to study in silence the direct revelation of God' s 
Spirit." This sentence would at first sight lead one to 
the conclusion that the human heart and nature, in- 
stead of being sources of religious truth, are the 
abodes, so to speak, wherein the voice of God is heard 
distinctly. God does not speak through but in nature 


and intuition, and so the revelation is immediate and 
direct, not mediate and indirect. This, however, is the 
apparent, but not the real meaning. The Brahmos 
admit that religious truths may be evolved from nature 
by processes of induction and deduction, and from 
human consciousness by calm reflection, and from the 
literature of the world by rigid scrutiny and analysis. 
But the truths thus evolved must be verified before 
adoption ; and this can be done by direct communica- 
tions from God. Inspiration then is in particular cases 
a source of direct revelation, and in all cases the source 
of verification. Every truth, howsoever obtained or 
arrived at, whether by processes of reasoning based on 
natural phenomena, or by a careful analysis of the con- 
tents of our moral consciousness, or by an examination 
of the writings of the great prophets of the world, 
must be recognized as such in the light of God's imme- 
diate revelation before it can be made an article of 
belief. And therefore inspiration or a series of direct 
communications from God are, properly speaking, the 
abiding basis of the Brahmo creed. This extraordinary 
claim has been put forth with unhesitating confidence 
by our Brahmo friends of Mr. Sen's school or persuasion 
in behalf of their creed ; and if it only could be sub- 
stantiated by proper evidence, its universal acceptabil- 
ity would remain unchallenged. But a particle of 
proof in favor of this stupendous claim has never been 

Let us conclude this paper with a brief reference to 
what the Brahmo Somaj of India says about the tests 
of Brahmo doctrine. In the Theistic Annual for 1872 
there is an article entitled " The Claims of Theism," 
and in it the tests and credentials of Brahmoism are 
presented logically and categorically — that is, in a 


manner much less unconnected and rhapsodical than 
that in which they are referred to and hinted at in the 
writings of the great reformer. "We are tempted to 
make one or two preliminary observations before allud- 
ing to them. The article begins with these words : 
' ' It has sometimes been asked by thoughtful persons, 
who are considerably interested in the progress of the 
Brahmo Somaj, as to what the Brahmos consider, in 
the light of claims, which their religion may assert 
upon the faith of mankind. It is admitted by many 
that the principles of that religion, as embodied in its 
progressive development, are peculiarly new and spirit- 
ual, but they lack the necessary evidence, the solid and 
substantial basis of facts upon which men can safely 
trust their religious future." "What are the " new and 
spiritual principles" which Brahmoism has brought to 
light ? The simple creed of Babu Keshub Chunder Sen 
is as old almost as the world itself, and has not a single 
feature of novelty about it. Mr. Sen imitates some of 
the infidel writers of the day, and speaks of universal 
progress as the rule of life in all its departments. Re- 
ligion has been keeping pace with science in its devel- 
opment ; and as new discoveries and inventions are the 
trophies scattered in the path of secular knowledge, 
new truths and principles are pointed to by the moral 
nature of man as its recent triumphs. But people in 
the habit of talking in this strain fail to explain why 
no progress has been made in the sphere of religion and 
morals during the last eighteen hundred years. While 
science has been advancing with giant strides, religion 
has continued stationary ; and not a single doctrinal 
truth or preceptive principle has been added to the 
stock of knowledge Christ and His apostles left behind 
them. In the sphere of religion especially there is 


nothing new under the sun, because nothing new is 

Again the writer remarks : " The first great error 
of which every system of religion is, without excep- 
tion, guilty, and which the Theists congratulate them- 
selves on having escaped, is the universal narrowness 
which precludes the unreserved adoption of truth, irre- 
spective of its origin or process of development. ' ' That 
is, Christians, for instance, are not willing to recognize 
and accept truth discovered outside the pale of their 
religion. If this were a fact, the charge of narrow- 
mindedness might justly be brought against them. 
But we emphatically deny the assumed fact, and we 
indignantly repel the charge. Nor do we in the slight- 
est degree object to an adoption and appropriation 
of Scripture truths by the Brahmos or by any other 
class of people. What we object to is the vainglo- 
rious spirit which, after having taken truths from our 
religious books, parades them as its own discoveries ; 
and the spirit of thoughtless, superficial criticism 
which would trace to intuition truths which irrefraga- 
ble evidence ascribes to supernatural revelation attested 
by stupendous miracles. 

The three tests of Brahmo doctrine, enumerated in 
the article alluded to, are simplicity, spirituality, and 
usefulness— different obviously from the three tests of 
intuitive truths specified by Immanuel Kant — viz., 
simplicity, universality, and necessity. By simplicity, 
however, our Brahmo friends mean, not merely plain- 
ness of expression and transparency of meaning, but 
universal acceptability also. Hear what the writer 
says : " The simplicity of theistic doctrines is, we 
think, a great claim upon the faith of the candid in- 
quirer. They are so plain, so unambiguous, and so 


fundamental, that they make direct entrance into every 
heart, and strike a response upon the rudimentary 
chord of the moral and spiritual nature." If simplic- 
ity were of itself a great recommendation, the plain 
and unambiguous statement, there is no God, ought to 
be accepted by every candid inquirer ; but our friend's 
meaning doubtless is, that the Brahmo doctrines are so 
decidedly true, that the moment they are stated in in- 
telligible terms they are instinctively accepted. And 
therefore all the tests of intuitive truths mentioned by 
Kant are included in his first test. Again, the word 
" spirituality" is used by him in this connection in the 
sense of inspiration, rather than in its ordinary sense. 
"We humbly and repentantly enter into the folds of 
our being, try to behold everything there by the light 
which kind heaven kindles in the bosom of every ear- 
nest worshipper. " " What we know, little indeed as 
that may be, we know from the promptings of the 
supreme Spirit in the heart, the Spirit whom we wor- 
ship and humbly labor to find. ' ' The third test is set 
forth in these words : " The practical importance of 
theistic doctrines constitutes another and a very strong 
claim. Our views being formed from fife produce 
their reaction on life. Their spirituality, to which we 
have alluded, would mean nothing if it did not produce 
marked results upon the soul and upon the activities 
of life." 

Let it be observed that two of these tests are super- 
fluous — the first and the third. The second, inspira- 
tion, is enough to substantiate the claim of any truth 
to acceptance and homage. If the Brahmo doctrines 
have been revealed by God, or if they have been con- 
firmed by the testimony of God, or, what is the same 
thing, by divine revelation, they are universally obliga- 


tory. But what proof do our Mends give for the 
authority thus claimed for them ? All their arguments 
under this head may be summarized in the following 
syllogism : They that seek religious truth earnestly 
cannot but find it ; we have sought truth earnestly, 
ergo, we have found it. Granting the major premiss, 
we have to be assured that our friends have sought 
truth with sufficient earnestness, with perfect freedom 
from prejudice, with a mind thoroughly unbiassed, an 
intellect calm and dispassionate, and a heart entirely 
loyal to truth. The man must be bold indeed who can 
affirm that he has been seeking truth exactly in the 
spirit in which it ought to be sought, and that if he 
fails to attain it his failure is a reflection on the justice 
and goodness of God. The third is a double test, and 
points to the beneficent results of the system on the 
soul and on the world. So far as the inward results 
are concerned, the assertion of the Brahmos is the only 
ground of conviction. It is after all a very weak 
ground ; for, prone as we are to give them credit for 
probity and veracity, we are led by the superficiality 
of thought stamped on their creed, and the contradic- 
tions into which they have allowed themselves to be 
betrayed, to withhold perfect confidence from their 
judgment. Again, as to external results, nothing as 
yet accomplished by Brahmoism can bear the slightest 
comparison with the fruits of the benevolent activity 
and humanitarian enthusiasm with which Comtism was 
associated not long since ! The first therefore is the 
only test admissible, and, judged by it, the peculiar 
features of Brahmoism are found wanting. This we 
hope to show in our next discourse. 



It is time for us to show that the affirmations and 
negations of Brahmoism, barring the fundamental 
truths forming the creed of pure naturalism, are, judged 
by the test to which they have a right to appeal, and 
to which they do appeal oftener perhaps than to the 
others, groundless. This test is intuition, or the moral 
consciousness of man, and it is the only test which is 
admissible in an argument with them — the two others, 
inspiration and utility being, as has already been 
shown, emphatically not so. 

So long as our Brahmo friends confine themselves to 
general beliefs and vague assertions, they speak the 
language of intuition, and nothing can be said against 
them. Mr. Sen's general creed is thoroughly unex- 
ceptionable. No sensible man has anything to say 
against him when he enlarges on the doctrines of the 
Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man ; or 
when he expresses his belief in God, immortality, and 
human accountability ; or when he represents love to 
God and man as the essence of practical religion. 
These vague generalities are found imbedded in one 
and all the religions of the world ; and we are only 
tempted to laugh at people prone to state these truisms 
with an air of consequence as if they were new discov- 
eries. "We maintain that in proclaiming these funda- 
mental truths Christianity has an advantage to which 


Brahmoism cannot possibly lay claim. Our holy relig- 
ion takes them for granted, and scarcely goes the 
length of formally stating them. But what it says re- 
garding them may be justly regarded as an authorita- 
tive proclamation emanating from the very throne of 
the Almighty. No room for doubt is left, no hesi- 
tancy or vacillation of faith is possible. The scientific 
man, prone to laugh at every item of knowledge that 
comes from regions beyond the narrow horizon of the 
senses — prone, moreover, to regard with distrust the 
general beliefs called intuitions — is bound to accept the 
fundamental truths of religion on the ground of objec- 
tive revelations attested by an array of evidence which 
even he cannot gainsay. And the man whom a long- 
continued and almost irresistible habit of self-examina- 
tion has led to a complete distrust of self and its utter- 
ances, cannot but be too glad to find those convictions 
of his heart, of which, though prone to regard them 
with distrust, he cannot get rid, confirmed by declara- 
tions the divine origin of which he is made to see and 
admit by irrefragable evidence. Christianity obviates 
all scepticism about the fundamental truths of religion 
by calling down, so to speak, an attestation of heaven 
in their behalf. While Brahmoism places them on the 
basis of intuition — a basis on the whole weak, though 
sound — Christianity sees them built up, so to speak, on 
the rock of that Word which shall abide though heaven 
and earth pass away. But as regards these general 
truths let us have no quarrel with Brahmoism. Let us 
accept them on the testimony of intuition, and without 
such confirmation as the Bible brings to their aid. 

But these truths form a religion which is not 
obviously suited to the condition of fallen man, how- 
ever well adapted it might be to the condition of those 


intelligences who have never fallen from their original 
state of purity and righteousness. Something more is 
needed — namely, a plan of salvation adequate to the 
emergencies of his case to complete it. From generals, 
therefore, Brahmoism must descend to particulars ; 
and when it does so it declares war against the species 
of proof on which it builds its superstructure of doc- 
trine and precept — viz. , its vaunted ' ' rock of intuition. ' ' 
To prove this, let us judge its varied affirmations and 
negations by its own crucial test. 

And the very first of its affirmations is that religion 
is a science of human origin, and partakes of the pro- 
gressive character of the other sciences. It is not 
necessary to prove this position of the Somaj by quota- 
tions from the writings of its champions. One of the 
articles of the revised creed of the Adi Somaj, pub- 
lished in 1866, in a tract called " Brief Survey," runs 
thus : " The Brahmos believe that the religious condi- 
tion of man is progressive, like the other parts of his 
condition in this world. " In an article on the ' ' De- 
velopment of the Brahmo Somaj," in the Theistic 
Annual of 1875, "the progressiveness" of religion is 
thus set forth : " The third and last requisite of a 
creed ought to be its progressiveness. The great battle 
between theology and science cannot terminate, unless 
the religious beliefs of mankind are so constructed as to 
include, embrace, and welcome the truths of all depart- 
ments of human speculation and research. If religion 
has not the elasticity, the capacity, the life, and the 
strength to adapt itself to philosophy and science, phi- 
losophy shall progress, and faith lag behind." The 
theory propounded in these sentences is well known to 
the public. Keligion is a science as decidedly human 
as pyschology, and it has been making progress since 


the beginning, from infancy to youth, from youth to 
manhood, and from manhood to old age. But it has 
not reached its limit of progression yet ; on the con- 
trary, like other sciences, it is on the move, and its fu- 
ture form may be as different from its present shape, 
as that is different from the fetich type in which it 
appeared in its infantine state. What Theodore 
Parker says of his " Absolute Keligion " may be said 
of the sciences in general, and is fitted to set forth its 
human origin. 

IsTow with reference to this specious theology we 
may fearlessly affirm that intuition cannot possibly be 
appealed to in its favor. It involves a question of 
history rather than one of intuitional belief. And 
history with its stubborn facts is marshalled against it. 
The very fact alluded to in a foregoing paper, that 
religion has continued stationary during the last eigh- 
teen hundred years, while the sciences have been 
making wonderful progress, tends to neutralize the 
theory in question. Add to this the fact that history 
draws a broad line of demarcation between the origin. 
of true religion and that of science, and proves by an 
array of stupendous but undeniable miracles ' ' that a 
series of preparatory revelations culminated in Christ, 
by whose immediate disciples the volume of inspira- 
tion was closed and sealed." History then belies the 
theory in question ; but whether its groundlessness is 
disclosed by history or not, one thing is certain — viz. , 
that intuition says nothing about it. If it is to be 
sustained at all, it must have a basis different from the 
rock of intuition. 

Religion may in one sense be represented as a pro- 
gressive science. The truths imbedded in the Bible 
have no more been thoroughly mastered, either in a 


mass or in detail, than the truths contained in the vol- 
ume of nature. And, therefore, as the science of exegesis 
makes progress, clearer ideas of the truths revealed 
will be carried out, and fresher and better classifications 
will be attempted with success. But the volume of 
inspiration will not have a word added to or taken 
from it. Let our Brahmo friends point to a new 
truth, or truth not discoverable in the Bible — truth, be 
it observed, not theory — and we shall admit their view 
of the progressiveness of religion. 

2. Another of their affirmations, akin to the one al- 
ready taken notice of, is that men in these days are in- 
spired as Paul and Peter and John were. Babu Keshub 
Chunder Sen's theory of great men, alluded to in a 
former paper, may be cited as proof of the tenacity with 
which this position is held ; and his recent utterances, 
to which reference will have to be made in a subsequent 
paper, make it evident that he represents himself as 
inspired in the same sense in which the great founders 
of the varied religions of the world were, in his opinion. 
He does not call himself a prophet, but he represents 
himself as " a singular man," and claims inspiration in 
unmistakable terms. And as there is, in his opinion, no 
generic difference between the inspiration with which 
Paul, for instance, was favored and that which made 
Shakespeare the extraordinary poet he was, his claim to 
inspiration is equivalent to a claim to being inspired in 
the same sense in which the ancient Jewish prophets 
and their successors, the apostles, were. But it is to 
be observed that these inspired writers did something 
more than merely claim inspiration. They brought 
forward in attestation of their claim such credentials as 
their enemies could not gainsay. They revealed new 
truths, and worked miracles to set forth the stamp of 


heaven on their declarations and teachings. But the 
inspired heroes of the day have nothing new, barring 
their vagaries, to teach ; and they fail to bring forward 
even a shadow of evidence in support of the extraor- 
dinary claims they advance. Nor can this affirma- 
tion on their part be substantiated by intuitive evi- 
dence, involving as it does a question of fact, not an 
intuition of the mind. 

3. Another of the affirmations found wanting when 
judged by their own standard is that sin punishes and 
annihilates itself. In a paper on " Sin, its Origin, 
Nature, and Punishment," in the Theistic Annual for 
1873, we have such assertions as these : " The punish- 
ment of sin is sin." " When sin becomes loathsome, 
the mind that is sinful lives with perpetual loathsome- 
ness ; the torments of hell are within it. Thus sin is its 
own punishment." " Righteousness grows forever, and 
triumphs in the end ; sin slowly kindles the fire, which 
ultimately consumes it, and works its own destruc- 
tion." " We consider punishment not to be vengeful, 
but remedial. I have said sin consumes itself, and 
works out its own cure." 

It must be admitted that the Brahmo theory regard- 
ing sin and salvation is involved in great confusion, and 
statements can be brought out of their writings fitted 
to oppose the sentiments expressed in these quotations. 
But it is certain that the theory excludes the notion of 
arbitrary punishment annexed to sin. Disease and 
death, distress and calamity, indigence and disgrace are 
scarcely represented as punishments attached to sin by 
the justice of God. They are attributed to certain 
immutable laws at work, and the punishment is con- 
fined to its effects within the heart. It is expressly 
said that " the punishment of sin then only commences 


when the soul learns to aspire after God." When the 
soul sees the loathsome effects of sin in it, it is pained, 
and led to repentance, faith, and prayer, and the ulti- 
mate result is its deliverance from sin. In this way sin 
punishes and annihilates itself. Both our instincts 
and experience are marshalled against this idea. We 
naturally and instinctively associate physical calamities 
with sin. We of course do not look upon pain as an 
unmixed evil, and we readily admit that in the dispen- 
sations of Providence it perforins functions on the 
whole beneficial. But we instinctively look upon it as 
an important factor in that economy of a punitive char- 
acter which was ushered in by sin, either in anticipation 
of its appearance or subsequent to it. The existence 
of pain is no more a necessity than the existence of 
sin, and the mistakes into which rationalism, in and 
out of India, has fallen are traceable to its unmistaka- 
ble tendency to regard them both as such. 

4. Another affirmation of Brahmoism is that repent- 
ance is the only possible atonement for sin. This sen- 
timent is the vital principle of its creed, and runs 
through all the declarations with which it is associated. 
On page 21 of the well-known tract, " The Brahmo 
Somaj Vindicated," we have this statement : " True 
atonement means to be at one with God ; true repent- 
ance, by delivering us from sin, brings us back to God ; 
hence our belief that repentance is atonement — yea, the 
only atonement possible." Mr. Sen himself, in his 
" Lectures and Tracts" (p. 114), thus speaks of repent- 
ance : u True penitence humbles man to the dust, and 
makes him put his entire trust in the Lord for the pur- 
pose of salvation. As such, repentance is essential to 
faith ; for not till man's proud head is humbled down 
under an overpowering sense of his own unworthiness 


would he cling to God's feet ; not till he distrusts him- 
self would he trust the redeeming and all-sufficient 
grace of God. Repentance begins the good work of con- 
version, which faith and prayer carry on. By opening 
the eyes of the sinner to his iniquities it fosters a long- 
ing for deliverance ; faith and prayer act as guides, and 
safely lead the penitent sinner into the kingdom of 
heaven, where he is regenerated by divine grace ! " In 
this declaration salvation is traced, as it should be, to 
divine grace ; but what is to be taken special notice of 
is the fact that no such intermediate link between re- 
pentance and the grace of God, as is implied in the 
Christian doctrine of the atonement or the universal 
doctrine of sacrifice, is admitted. Repentance is repre- 
sented to be the only atonement possible for sin. But 
this assertion, as we showed in a foregoing paper, 
militates against our instinctive beliefs or intuitions, 
which, while representing repentance as absolutely 
necessary, points out the necessity of something else — 
the sacrifice of an innocent victim for sin. Buddha de- 
clared a war of extermination against the universally 
believed doctrine of sacrifice, but his followers all over 
the world offer sacrifices in spite of his positive declar- 
ations and injunctions to the contrary. Such is the 
power of instinct ! 

5. The last affirmation of Brahmoism of which we 
shall take notice is that there is left in fallen man such 
recuperative power as may enable him to work out his 
own salvation, under, of course, the grace of God. 
Hear what Mr. Sen says on the subject : " In the 
religion of the world man is his own guide, and to a 
great extent his own saviour. He depends upon his 
own faculties and powers for the attainment of truth, 
and for deliverance from sin" (" Lectures and Tracts," 

94 BRA.HMOIS^r. 

p. 100). The reader ought once more to be reminded 
that Mr. Sen's utterances under this head, like almost 
all his utterances, are characterized by such inconsis- 
tency and incoherence that passages may be culled out 
of his writings fitted to upset our conclusion ; but as he 
has always systematically opposed the supernatural in 
the proper sense of the term, he is bound to posit some 
such recuperative power to render salvation in the case 
of fallen man a possibility. It must be admitted that 
no Christian even speaks by the grace of God more grate- 
fully than he does in every case of conversion or regen- 
eration ; but his whole scheme of salvation would be 
meaningless if this grace were for a moment supposed 
capable of acting except through means, strictly speak- 
ing, natural. We are therefore, on the whole, right in 
concluding that according to the Brahmo creed man has 
left in him some recuperative power, which, properly 
utilized, might lead to his being saved. But man does 
not instinctively look to his own faculties and powers 
for the attainment of truth and for his deliverance from 
sin. On the contrary, he looks up for supernatural 
help, naturally and instinctively, and consequently his 
moral consciousness is marshalled against the Brahmo 

All the affirmations of Brahmoism are, judged by their 
own criterion, the rock of intuition, utterly groundless. 
This may with equal justice be said of all the negations 
which cut so grand a figure in its creed. In both its 
aiiirmations and negations Brahmoism systematically 
opposes the very principle which it loudly and osten- 
tatiously represents as the fundamental basis of its 

1. The foremost place among the negations of Brah- 
moism is occupied by the statement : Miracles are not 


possible. It is not necessary to bring forward proofs 
in corroboration of this negative assertion, inasmuch 
as it runs through the entire literature of Brahmoism 
and underlies the entire superstructure of its doctrine 
and precept. In view, however, of this statement we 
are tempted to repeat what John Foster said about 
rank atheism. The wonder turns upon the prodigious 
amount of knowledge which has brought our Brahmo 
friends to the conclusion that miracles are not possible. 
Do these gentlemen pretend to a thorough knowledge 
of the past history of the universe, such as may enable 
them to feel warranted in affirming that no miracle 
was ever wrought by God during the eternity that is 
gone by % Is their knowledge of the future so complete 
as to justify the affirmation on their part that no mira- 
cle shall ever be wrought in the eternity that is to 
come ? Is their knowledge of the universe, as it exists 
now, so complete that the} 7 " can stand up and affirm 
with oracular assurance that the immutable law of 
nature is not being interfered with in any portion of 
any of the innumerable worlds of which it is com- 
posed, in any nook or corner of its hmitless and il- 
limitable expanse ? Again, does the Brahmo profess to 
have so thoroughly measured the power of the 
Almighty as to be able to point out with sufficient 
accuracy the circumstances under which it is converted 
into utter impotency ? Has he so adequate an idea 
of each of the elements which constitute divine wisdom, 
or so adequate a knowledge of the principles by which 
his administration of the universe is guided, or of the 
laws and forces through which He acts, as might 
make it philosophical on his part to put forward a 
statement of such wonderful breadth and compass ? 
He must indeed be himself a God in order to be able 

96 BRAHM0IS3J:. 

to affirm the impossibility of the supernatural with 
oracular assurance. 

The inconsistency of this statement with the funda- 
mental article of his creed — viz. , there is a God of bound- 
less power and wisdom, as well as infinite holiness — is 
too obvious to be formally mentioned. Even John 
Stuart Mill affirms that if the existence of God were 
admitted a miracle could not reasonably be represented 
as impossible. Had the Brahmo been a materialist or a 
pantheist, such an assertion on his part might have 
had the shadow of a reason to justify it ; but spring- 
ing from the lips of a theist it cannot but sound strange. 

But let us judge this statement by the great test of 
Brahmoism, intuition. That men instinctively believe 
in the possibility of the supernatural is proved by 
the fact that the belief is upheld by all the religions 
of the world, and prevails in every country, and among 
all classes of people, a few conceited persons excepted. 
The universality of the belief tends to set forth its in- 
stinctive character, while nothing has ever been 
brought forward fitted to place it in antagonism to in- 

When the impossibility of the supernatural is insisted 
upon, the idea of a supernatural revelation attested by 
supernatural occurrences is of course precluded. But 
belief in such a revelation is universal, and in accord 
with the moral instincts of humanity. Judged by the 
great criterion of the Somaj, its antagonism to what 
is sneeringly called a book revelation, is misplaced. It 
is not at all difficult to prove that such opposition is 
incompatible with the claim to inspiration it has always 
advanced, to a great extent of late. When a truth is 
made manifest by inspiration, and put upon record, the 
result is a paper revelation. The Brahmos have their 


symbols and standards, all to be traced, according to 
their assumptions, to divine inspiration, and therefore 
to be accepted without hesitation. Their creeds are 
paper creeds, and they, each of them separately and 
all of them joined together, embody a book revelation, 
the nightmare against which they have been fighting 
with might and main. 

2. Another of the negations of Brahmoism is that 
God, while ready to hear and answer our petitions for 
spiritual blessings, does not and cannot listen to our 
prayers for temporal blessings. The reasoning we have 
arrayed against the first negation may with great pro- 
priety be marshalled against this. The Brahmo must 
know a great deal indeed before he can feel justified in 
affirming that God cannot hear and answer our prayers 
for blessings appertaining to our physical life. He must 
study and master the varied principles of the divine 
administration, must have a complete insight into the 
thoughts and purposes of God, as well as into the work- 
ings of the varied forces of the universe, ere he is justi- 
fied in venturing such an assertion. But let us judge it 
by his own standard or criterion — by the " rock" on 
which he builds his doctrinal and preceptive superstruct- 
ure. Nothing is more certain than the fact that men in- 
stinctively pray for temporal blessings as well as for those 
of a spiritual character. When hungry or athirst, or 
sick or in prison, man instinctively looks up to God for 
help ; and so strong is this instinct that even those who 
call themselves atheists, or plume themselves on their 
deliverance from the superstitions of a theological age, 
are overcome by it. Anecdotes are afloat fitted to 
show that atheists, when faced by sudden danger, in- 
stinctively cry to God for help. And if prayers for 
temporal blessings are impertinent and useless, no 


dependence can possibly be placed on our moral in- 
stinct, and the conclusion is irresistible that God is 
tantalizing 1 us by implanting in our hearts longings 
which are never to be gratified. The religious feeling 
in man — his sense of dependence on a higher Being, 
the basis of Brahmoism — irresistibly leads us to pray 
for blessings pertaining to our physical life as well as 
for those appertaining to our higher nature ; and the 
system which taboos particular kinds of prayer and 
allows others mocks universal instinct, which has been 
represented as the groundwork of all religion. 

It is moreover to be observed that the reasons 
brought forward to support this position may be mar- 
shalled against every species of prayer — for spiritual as 
well as temporal blessings. These are stated in the 
following quotation from Mr. Sen's works : " Men can- 
not pray for physical blessings, because physical phe- 
nomena happen according to immutable laws. They 
can pray only for spiritual blessings. ' ' JSTo w, is Mr. Sen 
ignorant of the well-known fact that spiritual phenom- 
ena are, like physical phenomena, guided by immuta- 
ble laws ? And if such guidance is an insuperable ob- 
stacle in the way of prayer for physical blessings, 
prayer for spiritual blessings must also be tabooed or 
represented as both impertinent and useless. Laws in 
the moral world are as fixed and immutable as laws in 
the physical- world ; and if it is impossible for God to 
interfere with their regular course, all talk of religion 
is bosh. 

3. Another well-known negation of the Somaj is that 
God cannot pardon sin. God, its champions justly 
affirm, is just, and as justice demands the adequate 
punishment of sin, He cannot remit it without being, 
in plain English, unjust. Again, punishment follows 


sin as an inevitable sequence, and therefore God can- 
not remit it without interfering with the established 
laws of causation — that is, without making a miracle, 
the impossibility of which is loudly and emphatically 
proclaimed. In the pamphlet entitled "The Brahmo 
Somaj Vindicated " (p. 22) we have this emphatic 
statement : " Repentance will save the sinner, says 
Brahmoism. Save him from what ? Xot from the 
punishment due to sins already committed, for divine 
justice is immutable and its decrees irreversible, but 
save him from sin. You may fabricate a convenient 
theory of atonement, and do what you like ; . . . 
nothing will save you from the punishment you deserve. 
The moment you have sinned, justice will rise up and 
say, ' Sinner, thou hast sinned, and must be ade- 
quately punished. ' ' ' Mr. Dyson, in his able pamphlet 
on the " Brahmic Dogma of Divine Forgiveness," pre- 
sents the following extract from a tract entitled " Es- 
sential Principles" : "Every sinner must suffer the 
consequences of his own sins, sooner or later, in this 
world or in the next. ' ' He presents other quotations 
from Brahmo writings in corroboration of the Brahmo 
theory of the unforgiveableness of sin, but these will 

This negation may be disposed of precisely in the 
same way in which the others have .been. The 
Brahmo must know a great deal more than he does to 
feel warranted in proclaiming, as he is doing, the un- 
forgiveableness of sin. He must have an adequate and 
correct idea of the justice of God and a thorough 
knowledge of the principles of the divine administration 
before he can commit himself with logical consistency 
or philosophic fairness to so bold a declaration. 
Again, his assertion that God cannot interpose between 


sip and its punishment in consequence of the immuta- 
bility of laws of nature is tantamount to the assertion 
that God cannot work miracles — an assertion ludicrously 
unphilosophical, though frequently made. 

But this negation, judged by the standard of the 
Somaj — the moral consciousness of man — appears utter- 
ly groundless. Men instinctively believe in the for- 
giveableness of sin, and instinctively pray for pardon. 
To go no further, the religious literature of our own 
country makes it evident that man naturally believes 
both in the willingness and power of God to forgive, 
and prays for pardon as well as purification. The 
Bishis of the Rig Veda times did not believe in the 
propriety of restricting prayer to spiritual blessings, for 
they were never tired of praying for houses, wives, 
children, cows, sheep, wealth, and prosperity. Nor 
did they believe in the unforgiveableness of sin, inas- 
much as they often prayed that the gods might pardon 
their own and the sins of their forefathers. And their 
example has been instinctively followed by all classes 
of the people of our country at all times, in spite 
of the doctrine of transmigration, which declares all 
interposition, divine or human, between sin and its 
merited punishment both improper and unavailing. 
And men everywhere will be led by an irresistible in- 
stinct to psay for pardon in spite of the Brahmo repro- 
duction of the idea of unforgiveableness associated with 
this exploded doctrine. The Brahmos in affirming the 
impossibility of pardon are overturning the foundations 
of their own creed — their moral intuitions — which are 
one and all marshalled against an idea so obviously 
strange and so cruelly disappointing. 

Again, we may ask, with what words of comfort or 
consolation do the Brahmos approach us ? If they 


cannot assure us of pardon, what on earth or in heaven 
have they to give us ? We are conscious of sin. Our 
consciousness of sin is a complex rather than a simple 
mental state, and it leads us to a recognition of its 
malignity, guilt, and obnoxiousness to punishment. 
Both from the punishment as well as from the malig- 
nity, depravity, or impurity of sin we long for deliver- 
ance. It may be easy to say that we ought to be will- 
ing manfully to accept the punishment which our own 
sins bring upon us, while naturally desirous to get rid 
of their degrading consequences on the heart. But, 
constituted as we are, we naturally shrink from and 
deprecate the suffering as well as the depraving influence 
associated with sin ; and it is the glory of Christianity 
to regard us in its exhortations and denunciations ex- 
actly as we are, not as we might be. The cry of our 
heart is pardon, pardon, pardon. "Without pardon it 
is agitated and restless, and nothing but pardon can 
bring it peace. And if the Brahmo religion cannot 
come to us with assurances of pardon it has not a word 
of comfort or consolation to speak to us. According to 
it the prospect before us is gloomy indeed ! We are 
daily adding to the stock of our sins, and shall go on 
adding to it to the last moment of our lives. We are 
heaping up unto ourselves wrath against the day of 
wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of 
God. We shall have then to leave this world with the 
sure prospect of punishment before us. What a 
gloomy prospect this ! But the Brahmo points to a 
ray of light flickering through the deep gloom. The 
punishment before us is, according to him, terminable, 
and the night will end in a day of unclouded sunshine. 
This assertion brings us to the last negation of Brahmo- 
ism — the last, we mean, of which we shall take notice. 


Against no doctrine have the Brahmos inveighed 
more energetically and more systematically than the 
doctrine of eternal punishment. Numerous passages 
can be quoted from Mr. Sen's writings and those of his 
coadjutors fitted to set forth what may be called the 
Brahmo antipathy to eternal punishment ; but the fol- 
lowing from his " English Visit" (p. 175) will suffice : 
" It would be an insult to the majesty of God's throne, 
it would be a blasphemy against divine mercy, to say 
that He will wrathfully condemn any sinner to eternal 
punishment." Let us repeat what we have said under 
so many heads. The Brahmo in decrying eternal pun- 
ishment exposes himself to the charge of rashness, which 
may properly be brought against the man who stands 
up and affirms, ' ' There is no God. ' ' Our friend must 
know a great deal more than he does — must, in short, 
be omniscient — before he can assume such an attitude 
with even philosophical fairness. He must have a 
thorough knowledge of the demands of divine justice, 
and so be in a position to pronounce an opinion as to 
the congruity or incongruity of eternal punishment 
therewith. He must have a thorough knowledge of 
all the principles of the divine administration before he 
can denounce such punishment as inconsistent with 
them. He must be able to show by chapter and verse 
that eternal punishment is not fitted to promote the 
ends of God's government of the universe, or secure 
the highest good of the largest number of God's ra- 
tional creatures. In a word, he must be a God to be 
able to denounce as he does eternal punishment as in- 
consistent with the wisdom, goodness, and mercifulness 
of God. Bat he says that his own feelings revolt from 
such a doctrine. What then ? His feelings, guided 
as they are by sin, revolt from many things that are 


good. Are his feelings to be made the measure of 
truth ? The feelings of the prisoner always revolt 
from the sentence pronounced against him by the 
judge, but these are never brought forward as an irre- 
fragable argument against its wisdom or justice. 

It is not our object now to stand up for eternal pun- 
ishment : it may be a creation of superstitious fear. 
But we do maintain that our friends cannot with philo- 
sophical fairness denounce it as inconsistent with the 
wisdom or the benevolence of God. They have no 
right to say what the punishment of sin will be, how 
long it will continue, or whether it must in every case 
be remedial and nothing more. These are matters 
that can be settled only by divine revelation. The 
Word of God must be studied, and if eternal punish- 
ment is clearly taught therein, it must be accepted ; 
otherwise not. 

It is not necessary for us to remark here that the 
doctrinal platform of the Somaj, together with what 
we have called its affirmations and negations, does not 
present a single novel feature. In its adoption of the 
principles we have set forth the incongruity of, accord- 
ing to the criterion it has itself laid down, as well as 
those of a more general character, it has shown inclis- 
criminative imitativeness rather than originality or 
breadth of thought. But its imitativeness reaches its 
climax when it adopts Christian terminology in the 
sense attached to it as a whole, and to its varied ele- 
ments by infidel writers, whose writings, though unac- 
knowledged, have done more to fashion its theology and 
creed than the religious books from which it profes- 
sedly derives its inspiration. Brahmoism has its Unity 
in Trinity, its Incarnation, its Atonement, its Kedemp- 
tion, its Kegeneration, its Gospel, its Eevelation, its 


Law and the Prophets, its Church and Sacraments. 
But each of these important terms expresses in Brahmo 
theology a sense very different from, if not contradic- 
tory to, what is attached to it in the creed of the 
Christian. Its Trinity, for instance, is not the Triune 
Jehovah of the Christians, a Threefold Distinction in 
the Godhead, hypostatic but not essential, but one God 
appearing in a Trinity of manifestations, in nature, his- 
tory, and the human soul. Its Incarnation is not Em- 
manuel, God with us, but the typical Great Man with 
a great deal more of divinity in him than falls to the 
lot of ordinary mortals — a Shakespeare in the region of 
poetry, a Bacon in the region of philosophy, a Newton 
in the region of demonstrative science, or a Sen in the 
region of religion and morals. And in this manner all 
these terms are divested of their supernatural signifi- 
cance, and made to shrink into truths which at first 
sight commend themselves as rational to our sin-en- 
feebled and sin-corrupted minds, but which neverthe- 
less are incongruous with the deepest instincts of our 
fallen nature. But if the transforming process had 
been new or discovered by the Brahmos, some degree 
of originality might legitimately have been claimed by 
them. But they have been imitators from beginning 
to end, have copied the terms and the meanings at- 
tached to them by infidel writers, without study, 
thought, or discrimination. 

But their characteristic imitativeness is shown in 
their devotional practices as well as in the doctrinal 
platform they occupy. They call their temple the 
Church of India ; and they present in their forms of 
worship a mixture, somewhat odd, of the holy spiritu- 
ality of Christian worship and the noisy demonstrative- 
ness of Yaishnavism. Mr. Sen in his devotional inno- 


vations has proved a chip of the old block as well as a 
discerner of the times. He has not failed to appreciate 
the practical usefulness as well as the dignity and holy 
but not wild fervor of Christian worship ; and from 
the beginning he has been anxious to utilize almost all 
its elements in his temple — the sweet psalm, the impas- 
sioned but at the same time properly restrained prayer, 
and the religious discourse instinct with fervid elo- 
quence, but neither drawn out into inappropriate length 
nor marred by unbefitting coarseness. But he seems 
to have been unable to divest himself of the devotional 
influences brought to bear upon him when brought up 
in a home of Vaishnavism, amid the din and clamor of 
a form of worship as noisy and indecent as the Chris- 
tian is calm and dignified. In effecting a union of these 
two forms in his devotional innovations, he has, on the 
whole, acted wisely, inasmuch as he is likely to attract 
by either the one or the other form men of various 
tempers and dispositions —men in whom the intellect 
predominates as well as those under the guidance of 
impulsive feeling more than of reason and thought. 
But it is to be noted that in the forms of worship 
which he has been utilizing, as well as in the doctrines 
and principles which he has adopted as the watchwords 
of his creed, he has been an imitator rather than an 

It is not necessary to say that in instituting reform 
associations, starting journals, publishing pamphlets, 
opening schools, and organizing meetings of all de- 
scriptions he has been treading a path unknown to 
Indian reformers of a bygone age — a path new indeed, 
but one marked out for him not by his own inventive 
genius, but by what may be called the spirit of the 
times. Even in the employment of the means he has 


had recourse to for the purpose of propagating the new 
faith he has been an imitator, not an originator. His 
literary labors are copies of those of the accredited 
propagators of the Christian faith ; his meetings are 
imitations of those held by Christian people ; and his 
missionaries are editions, on the whole inferior, both in 
mental calibre and in enlightened zeal, of the mission- 
aries whom he occasionally takes the trouble of in- 
structing in the first principles of the Christian faith. 
In the employment of these means he has shown com- 
mendable judiciousness, such as is never shown by those 
missionaries who, ignorant of the fact that the age of 
Fakirism and dirt-cultus is fast passing away, publicly 
regret the absence from the native church of that aus- 
tere and repulsive spirit of asceticism from which, if 
properly developed, they would themselves shrink in 
horror. We do not at all find fault with him for living 
in a style above mediocrity in the country ; and if he 
only gave up his groundless pretensions to asceticism, 
even in the rather peculiar sense in which he uses the 
term, nothing could be said against his habits of life, 
Avhich, as those of a member of a very respectable 
family in Calcutta, a man of superior education and 
brilliant parts, and a friend and protege of men of ex- 
alted position in society and in official circles, entitle 
him to consideration and respect. 

It must, however, be confessed that Mr. Sen's zeal in 
this direction has not always been accompanied with 
discretion. The history of the Somaj proves that its 
benevolent schemes have on the whole been premature 
and abortive. He instituted a society, under the name 
of Indian Eef orm Association, with great eclat ; but the 
society, according to the testimony of sensible observ- 
ers like Pandit Siva Kath Sastri, lives by fits and 


starts — that is, continues as a rule dormant, though now 
and then lashed into a sort of momentary feverish ex- 
citement. A female normal school was opened under 
its auspices, but it is now among the things that were. 
Several institutions, such as industrial schools and night 
schools, were started only to be given up, each after a 
short season of trial. A temperance journal sprang 
into life and died precisely in the same manner. The 
Theistic Annual, started to keep the public informed of 
the views and proceedings of the Somaj, was replaced 
by a quarterly, of which nothing has been heard for 
some time past. Almost all the practical schemes of 
the Somaj have proved abortive, indicating a degree of 
rashness on the part of the projectors which tends to 
make them at best unreliable guides in matters of relig- 

As to the numerical prosperity of the Somaj before 
the second disruption, nothing can be said with any de- 
gree of accuracy. Brahmo statements on the subject 
are characterized by an exaggeration which makes them 
altogether worthless. That which kills the Brahmo 
Somaj, in the opinion of sensible observers, is the sen- 
sational style in which everything connected with it is 
reported. Brahmos speak of churches, which in many 
cases mean individual worshippers rather than congre- 
gations; theological colleges, which mean individual 
pupils rather than associations of students of divinity ; 
masses of literature, which mean small tracts and fly- 
leaves ; and grand revival meetings, which mean meet- 
ings not worth taking notice of. The sensationalism 
to which Mr. Sen has recourse in his sayings and 
doings withdraws public confidence from his statements 
regarding the number of his followers and other im- 
portant matters. We had a talk with a very worthy 


Brahmo missionary, now dead, during the high and 
palmy days of the movement, and he unhesitatingly 
stated his conviction that there were not three hundred 
men in all India who might justly be called Brahmos. 
The number has since gone down, and the fact that 
the Brahmos, while they give the number of the 
Somajes they have in India, never give the number of 
enrolled members, proves their unwillingness to look at 
and present the dark side of the picture. 

Mr. Sen believes not only in the fulness of recupera- 
tive power in man, but in the fulness of such power in 
the Hindu nation. Hear what he says in his " Eng- 
lish Yisit" (p. 300) : " There is still an inherent moral 
force in India which will enable it to work out its own 
redemption, not under the instruction of this man or 
that man, but under the direct inspiration of the holy 
and merciful God." It is not our object to contradict 
this statement. We only content ourselves with the 
remark that there is a diversity of opinion in his own 
camp with reference to this assumed power. His own 
emphatic allegations lead us to the conclusion that the 
essence of the religion fitted to regenerate this country 
lies in the doctrine of the fatherhood of God, and its 
corollary the brotherhood of men. Whence has Mr. Sen 
received these principles ? From an indigenous or 
from a foreign source ? In an article in the Theistio 
Annual for 1873, headed " Relation of the Brahmo 
Somaj to Hinduism and Christianity," the writer, 
evidently Mr. Sen's right hand-man, Babu Pratap Chun- 
der Mazormdar, thus sets forth the source of one of these 
ideas : " The idea of the brotherhood and equality of 
all mankind before God, I am sorry to say, is not to be 
found, because it is never recognized, in any of our an- 
cient writings. The idea is decidedly foreign, Western, 


and I think I might say Christian." The same writer* 
in the same article traces the doctrine, from which the 
idea of universal brotherhood is a deduction, to Chris- 
tianity : "I do not deny there are innumerable pas- 
sages in Hindu books calling the Divine Being by all 
manner of names, but such names and the sentiments 
they embody are very different from the deep person- 
ality of spiritual relation typically expressed when 
Jesus exclaimed, ' Our Father in heaven. ' ' ' ISTo w if 
these two ideas are " to work out the redemption" of 
India, and if they have been imported from abroad, all 
talk of " our inherent moral force in India" fitted to 
effect its regeneration is bosh ! 



The example set by Mr. Sen, when he seceded from 
the Adi Somaj with an intelligent party of recusants, 
was pregnant with consequences which perhaps he did 
not foresee or anticipate. The reasons which led to his 
separation were destined to generate a disruption in the 
church which he subsequently organized. These were, 
as has already been indicated, protests against autocracy 
or papacy, and a growing tendency to radical reform. 
Or, to express the same thing in a simpler form, the 
first schism in the Brahmo camp was brought about by 
an irresistible tendency to democracy and radicalism. 
This tendency manifested itself in Mr. Sen's church, 
not long after its organization, and resulted in a crash 
which had scarcely, though it might have surely been 
anticipated from the very beginning. 

In our account of the New Dispensation, and that of 
the Sadharan Brahmo Somaj, we shall utilize the very 
valuable material skilfully brought together in Babu 
Siva Nath Sastri's very able pamphlet already referred 
to. The chain of argument presented by the learned 
champion of the Sadharan Somaj, every link of which 
is based on unexceptionable documentary evidence, is 
eminently fitted to support the conclusions to which he 
tries to bring the public with reference to the erratic 

* This, and all the chapters of this work, but the one which follows, 
were written before the death of Babu Keshub Chunder Sen. 


proceedings of the New Dispensationists, and the varied 
questions in dispute between them and his own party. 
"We are indebted to him for a masterly refutation of the 
vital principles of the New Dispensation, and a mas- 
terly exposition of those of the church he so worthily 

As early as 1863, the year which witnessed the com- 
pletion and formal consecration of the Mandir or temple 
of the Progressive party, a great agitation was caused 
by the reprehensible proceedings of some of its mem- 
bers, and the apparent reluctance of the ' ' minister to 
put them down with a high hand." These were noth- 
ing less than the public ascription to Mr. Sen of some 
of the names and titles and the homage due alone to 
God and a Divine Intercessor. " Persons were seen," 
says Mr. Sastri, "prostrating themselves at his feet, 
praying to him for intercession with God on their be- 
half, addressing him as Lord, Saviour, the Sinner's 
Way, etc. , some besmearing their heads with the dust 
of his feet, others applying it to their tongues. ' ' These 
irregularities were the legitimate fruits of the impetu- 
ous and undiscerning enthusiasm stirred up by the 
Bhakti movement, or the introduction of Yaishnava 
forms of devotion and Yaishnava hymns slightly 
changed, such as could not retain their vitality except 
as revolving around a central personality. 

A large party of Brahmos were justly scandalized by 
these irregular and idolatrous proceedings, and gath- 
ered around the standard of revolt raised by the two 
missionaries who had witnessed them, and construed 
Mr. Sen's non-interference into approval. This agita- 
tion, called in Brahmo literature the " Man- worship 
Agitation," did not subside till Mr. Sen had in a public 
letter disclaimed all sympathy with these practices and 

112 BRAHMOIStf. 

stated his reasons for not putting them down. These 
reasons, however, were regarded as both evasive and 
unsatisfactory ; and therefore the cement by which the 
jarring elements were once more united was something 
like a patch- work reconciliation. 

The peace thus brought about did not remain long 
undisturbed. A party, whose views on social prob- 
lems, as well as those of a religious character, were in 
advance of those of Mr. Sen and his missionaries, was 
organized ; and serious dissensions arose from the col- 
lisions into which the conservative and radical elements 
were brought, as question after question of religious 
and social reform was raised. Once the secession of 
the advanced party was only obviated by a timely con- 
cession on the part of the conservatives. This occurred 
when the question of female emancipation was on the 
tapis. Mr. Sen and his missionaries were in favor of 
the Purdah System, or of compelling all Brahmo ladies 
without distinction to sit behind screens in the church 
during service ; but the opposition demanded in a per- 
emptory manner the total abolition of a system so emi- 
nently fitted to perpetuate female seclusion. Their 
demands were at first treated with contempt ; but as 
they withdrew in a body from the communion, a com- 
promise was effected, and the privilege of sitting with 
their wives outside of screens, in corners assigned them, 
was accorded to the recusant party, and peace was 
restored for a time. 

But the liberal party looked upon this victory as only 
the first of a series, the result of which was to be the 
complete emancipation of the infant church from au- 
tocracy or papacy. They agitated for a constitution in 
the Somaj, a democratic form of government, and the 
transference of its property, the temple especially, from 


a single trustee to the charge of a body of trustees. 
They tried in short to frame a code of rules and regula- 
tions to check the growth of that personal influence, 
which they looked upon as inconsistent with the genius 
of Brahmoism, and ruinous to its interests. But their 
agitation only widened the breach between the parties 
so decidedly that a permanent reconciliation between 
them appeared hopeless. 

ISTor were matters of a purely doctrinal character left 
out of the range of debatable topics. A couple of 
doctrines, by no means new to the Somaj, had special 
attention called to them, and only resulted in intensify- 
ing the agitation in progress within its precincts. 
These were the doctrines of Adesh or Divine command, 
and Biclhan or dispensation. The germs of these doc- 
trines had appeared in Mr. Sen's famous discourse on 
' ' Great Men. ' ' The theory propounded in that lect- 
ure, viz. , that in the religious history of the world God 
raises up " great men," or men endowed with special 
powers and charged with special revelations to intro- 
duce new dispensations, demanded by moral exigencies 
of a peculiar stamp, had been held in abeyance for 
some time. But it was revived when the breach was 
widening between the conservatives and the liberals in 
the Somaj ; and the result was open recalcitration on 
the part of the latter. They first of all tried milder 
measures to lead Mr. Sen and his missionaries to an 
open renunciation of these dangerous principles ; but 
when these failed, they organized a regular opposition, 
and started a monthly journal, called SomadarsJd or 
The Liberal, to protest against them. 

These facts will show that combustible elements 
were being heaped up in the Somaj between the years 
1872 and 1878, and all that was needed to produce a 


conflagration was a spark. This was applied by the 
marriage of Mr. Sen's daughter to the young Mahara- 
jah of Kuch Behar. This event was protested against 
by the liberals as flagrantly inconsistent with the prin- 
ciples which Mr. Sen had himself propounded and 
fought for, and which, mainly in consequence of his 
exertions, had entered into the very texture of the mar- 
riage law of the Somaj. 

One of the social reforms for which Mr. Sen had 
agitated with heart and soul, and which he had been 
mainly instrumental in bringing about, was Act III. of 
1872, which fixes the minimum marriageable age of 
native girls at fourteen, and that of native lads at 
eighteen. The age limitations are among the promi- 
nent reformatory features of the Act, and for them it 
is mainly indebted to Mr. Sen. When it was passing 
through its varied stages of development, Mr. Sen 
issued a circular, elicited and published the opinions of 
some of the highest medical authorities, and brought 
these to bear upon the deliberations of the legislature. 
And when the limitations were finally agreed to, he 
looked upon and represented them as in reality below 
the mark ; and he hailed them as only the small begin- 
nings of a reform, which was to be matured in time by 
further encroachments upon the pernicious custom of 
early marriage prevalent in the country. The follow- 
ing extract from one of his speeches on the subject, 
presented in Pundit Siva Nath Sastri's pamphlet, 
proves this to a demonstration : 

' ' Thirdly, we contemplate the abolition of early or premature mar- 
riages. There has always been a large amount of uncertainty and 
doubt in the public mind, as to the minimum marriageable age of 
native girls. Eeference was therefore made to leading medical 
authorities in Calcutta, and what is the result ? It has been what we 


had anticipated. The medical authorities in Calcutta almost unani- 
mously declare that sixteen is the minimum marriageable age of 
native girls in this country. Dr. Charles makes a valuable sugges- 
tion : he holds that fourteen, being the commencement of adoles- 
cence, may for the present be regarded as the minimum age at which 
native girls may be allowed to marry, and may serve as a starting 
point for reform in this direction. In conformity with his sugges- 
tion, and the opinion given by the other referees, we have come to 
the conclusion that, for the present at least, it would be expedient 
to follow the provision in the Bill, which makes fourteen the mini- 
mum marriageable age of girls of this country, leaving it in the 
hands of time to develop this reform slowly and gradually into 
maturity and fulness." 

The Kuch Behar marriage between a girl of thirteen 
and a lad of sixteen was a flagrant departure from the 
liberal principles embodied in this extract. The mar- 
riage moreover had other objectionable features, accom- 
panied as it admittedly was with idolatrous rites and 
ceremonies. Mr. Sen published an able defence, giving 
prominence to the following points : 1, The marriage 
in question was a departure from the letter only, not 
from the spirit of the Act ; 2, Mr. Sen was not respon- 
sible for the idolatrous rites with which it was accom- 
panied ; 3, it was eminently fitted to advance the inter- 
ests of Brahmoism ; 4, Mr. Sen's consent was given in 
consequence of an express command from heaven. 
This statement of reasons reminds us of the lad who 
offered to state nine reasons for his father's non-appear- 
ance in a court of justice. " The first reason is that 
my father was dead when the court was held ; the 
second — " " Stop ! stop !" said the judge, " the first 
is enough." The express command from God, if it 
can be proved, is enough ; and the other reasons are 
superfluous ! 

But as the most potent of these reasons is not admis- 
sible, it is desirable to weigh the others, and see how 


far the j are fitted to uphold the cause, in behalf of 
which they are arrayed. 

Mr. Sen's first plea is that the marriage was incon- 
sistent with the letter rather than with the spirit of the 
Act he had been instrumental in getting passed. It is, 
however, not at all difficult to show that the very 
reverse of this is the truth. It is true that the mar- 
riage solemnized before the young Maharajah's depart- 
ure for Europe was in fact nominal, though legally 
irrevocable. The parties were not to live as husband 
and wife before either of them had attained the mar- 
riageable age indicated in the Bill. But their consent 
was obtained when they were minors in the sight, so to 
speak, of the law, and when, in reality, they were not 
in a position to enter intelligently into an engagement 
of so serious a character. It was publicly alleged that 
the marriage was hastened by the authorities because it 
was feared that the youthful Maharajah might be 
tempted in European countries to fix his affections upon 
a person fairer, if not worthier, than Mr. Sen's amiable 
daughter. The very fact that such an apprehension 
was entertained is a proof that the young man's con- 
sent was prematurely obtained, and that therefore the 
marriage was celebrated in contravention both of the 
spirit and of the letter of the Act. 

!Nor can Mr. Sen be exonerated from all blame in the 
matter of the idolatrous rites with which the marriage 
was confessedly accompanied. Had he not literally 
rushed into the tempting scheme, he might have saved 
himself from the humiliation which was his punishment 
for precipitancy. A little decision on his part before 
his own consent was given, or when he was thrust out 
of the scene as not fit on account of his visit to England 
to play his part in the ceremony, or when idolatrous 


rites stared him in the face, might, we think, have 
obviated all unworthy compromises on his part, though 
it might have made the marriage an impossibility at 
the eleventh hour. So bent was he on seeing the mar- 
riage solemnized that he neglected proper precautions, 
and proved weak and vacillating when he should have 
shown extraordinary firmness of character and strength 
of principle. 

It is but fair to admit that Mr. Sen was allured, as 
he affirms in his defence, by glorious visions of pros- 
perity as regards his church, as well as by domestic 
considerations, He, however, failed to see that a pro- 
ceeding involving a compromise of principle could never 
permanently benefit a religious organization. The 
author of " Ecce Homo" gives due prominence to an 
event in Christ's life fitted to set forth His wisdom in 
preferring principle to expediency on an occasion when 
a great temptation was placed in His way. A great 
man, a ruler of the Jews, sought admission into His 
kingdom, but on terms which demanded a slight relaxa- 
tion of its rules. The opportunity was grand, and the 
offer tempting ; and if Christ had been only a states- 
man, or a religious reformer, influenced by a regard to 
expediency rather than inflexible principle, He would 
have encouraged the illustrious applicant, and by a 
stroke of policy raised his despised community to a 
position of respectability and influence. But our Lord 
saw things in a different light ; and His stern demand 
of perfect, unconditional self- surrender obliged the 
ruler to go away sorrowful, for he was very rich. The 
result of Mr. Sen's temporizing policy is the present 
moribund condition of the Somaj. 

We have represented Mr. Sen's last reason as inad- 
missible, except when bolstered up by proofs which he 


does not even dream of bringing forward. "We may, 
however, be permitted to remark that he could not call 
Adesh or special divine command to the rescue without 
contradicting one of the fundamental principles of the 
Somaj. That principle, in plain English, is that the 
laws of nature being immutable, prayer for temporal 
blessings is useless. G-od cannot interfere in the secular 
concerns of this life ; and therefore prayer having for 
its object the advancement of our temporal or domestic 
interests of a temporal character, He cannot listen to or 
encourage. The marriage of Mr. Sen's daughter with 
a wealthy and titled nobleman is after all a temporal 
affair, and therefore a special divine command relative 
to it is precluded by the principles of the Somaj. If it 
be said that the Brahmos look upon it as a great im- 
petus to their cause, and therefore a spiritual blessing, 
our reply is, every temporal blessing may be converted 
into a spiritual blessing in this way. 

Mr. Sen, in having the marriage celebrated in spite 
of the counsels, entreaties, and protests of the most in- 
telligent and independent portion of his church, com- 
mitted spiritual suicide. The result was the second 
great schism of Brahmoism, and the consequent estab- 
lishment of a Somaj more progressive than his. Let us 
transfer to our pages the short account of its organiza- 
tion presented in Mr. Sastri's pamphlet : " At this 
point, those who were seeking to vindicate the princi- 
ples of the church, and to place it on a constitutional 
basis, were obliged to appeal to the Brahmo body in 
general, and to the provincial Somajes in particular. 
Within the incredibly short period of a fortnight, as 
many as twenty-one Somajes, and more than four hun- 
dred individual Brahmos and Brahmicas, from all parts 
of India, replied, strongly urging the necessity of leav- 


ing Mr. Sen with the church, and organizing a new so- 
ciety on a constitutional basis. Thus, in accordance 
with the expressed wishes of so many brethren, and 
the privately ascertained wishes of numerous others, 
the Sadharan Brahmo Somaj was duly organized on the 
15th of May, 1878." 

The secession of the recusant party may be looked at 
from two different standpoints — that occupied by Mr. 
Sen himself, and that occupied by the intelligent 
public. Judged by Mr. Sen's standard, it was a bless- 
ing. It left him unfettered to realize his own great 
idea of religious reform ; and he lost no time in avail- 
ing himself of the opportunity thus thrown in his way. 
But the blessing becomes a curse as soon as it is looked 
at from the standpoint occupied by the public. The 
most sensible among outsiders look upon the restraint 
laid upon the development of his most cherished 
schemes by the presence of the radical party as on the 
whole salutary ; and they trace the vagaries into 
which he has been betrayed since the schism as the sad 
but inevitable consequences of its withdrawal. The 
secession of the liberal party was in fact the secession 
of intelligence, independence of thought, and, there- 
fore, of life from his Somaj ; and whatever prominence 
he subsequently enjoyed, being the result of blind 
rather than intelligent adherence, cannot possibly be 
of a permanent character. To set forth this we have 
only to indicate the very strange turn his movement 
has taken since the withdrawal of what contributed to 
maintain the balance of his fine but weak intellect, and 
check the aberrations of his enthusiastic, lofty, but im- 
petuous and at times uncontrollable spirit. 

Mr. Sen, however, seems to have breathed freely 
when the secession was over. Left perfectly un- 


shackled, lie eagerly commenced the task of realizing 
his great idea of a New Dispensation, clustering around 
him as its central personality. The idea of such an 
economy he had disclosed, as has been more than once 
shown, in his famous lecture on " Great Men ;" but 
the presence and disagreeable operation of a counter- 
acting and controlling element had not only checked its 
development, but led to its being thrown into the back- 
ground. But now the long-sought opportunity was 
afforded, not only of giving it clue prominence, but of 
making it the vital element of his organization. He 
began the work at once, though the flag of the New 
Dispensation was not formally hoisted up till about a 
couple of years afterward. 

Our inquiries with reference to the New Dispensation 
of Babu Keshub Chunder Sen may be presented in a 
series of searching questions. 1. What is the New 
Dispensation % 2. How is it related to Mr. Sen, its 
author ? 3. What is its object ? 4. What its creed ? 
5. And what the rites and ceremonies associated with 
it ? These questions we shall try to answer one after 
another categorically, as they occur, taking care to 
verify our assertions by documentary evidence, such as 
we find arrayed in a masterly manner in Pudit Siva 
Nath Sastri's pamphlet, already alluded to. 

1. What is the New Dispensation ? A Dispensa- 
tion, according to Mr. Sen, is an embodiment in a per- 
son, rather than in a creed, of special knowledge and 
guidance vouchsafed by the Almighty to meet a press- 
ing moral emergency. In the history of the world in 
general, and of different nations in particular, seasons 
of moral upheaving appear, demanding extraordinary 
remedial measures or revolutionary changes. At such 
times special manifestations of God are needed to stem 


the rolling tide of corruption and bring in the era of 
godliness and piety already foreshadowed by prevailing 
restlessness, in conjunction with undefined yearnings 
after a better state of things. Such manifestations are 
granted when demanded by such emergencies, and each 
of them, embodied in or revolving round a " Great 
Man" or Prophet raised up, is a New Dispensation. 
Mr. Sen in his lecture on " Great Men" says : " Great 
men appear when they are needed. In the history of 
nations there occur now and then crises of a very seri- 
ous character, when the advancing tide of progress 
shakes the very foundations of society ; at such times 
certain great minds appear, being called forth by the 
peculiar necessities of the age, who avert impending 
perils, meet all existing wants, and remodel society on 
an improved basis. ' ' With reference to these i ' great 
men," Mr. Sen in the same lecture says : " In the 
established economy of providence there are special dis- 
pensations to meet the pressing wants of humanity. ' ' 

The Sunday Mirror, Mr. Sen's own organ, speaks in 
the same strain : " We believe that at special times 
and under special circumstances, when the world does 
need a revival or upheaving, and men do require the 
guidance of God, a special manifestation of His will 
takes place, and events happen which have a necessary 
connection, and may be interpreted as the workings of 
divine Providence." {Sunday Mirror, November 16, 
1879.) " When men are hopelessly gone in the way to 
misery and ruin, when a thick gloom of sin settles upon 
society, when human eyesight is unable to discern the 
right path, it is then that Providence sends to the 
world one of those men whose life has been sold to His 
Almighty will." (April 10,1881.) A New Dispen- 
sation then is special knowledge of religion communi- 


cated through, or rather concentrated in, a " great 
man" sent with a special commission to wind up an old 
and usher in a new state of things. The New Dispen- 
sation brought in by Mr. Sen is obviously demanded by 
the moral condition of the world. True religion is ex- 
tinct, and creeds mutually exclusive and conflicting 
reign in its place. The self -constituted champions of 
faith are wasting their energy in an unceasing inter- 
necine warfare, and party strife is becoming fearfully 
prevalent. Amid the din and turmoil of theological 
controversies the first principles of right practice are 
forgotten, and charity is cast overboard. Scepticism 
in theory and immorality in practice are by the law of 
reaction being brought about by the narrow-minded- 
ness and bigotry associated with religion. Darkness 
overspreads the world, and thick darkness the nations. 
At a time of such general degeneracy, what is needed 
but a New Dispensation, a flood of heavenly light flow- 
ing into the world through the illuminated mind of a 
great man ? Has the flag of the New Dispensation 
been hoisted a moment too soon ? 

2. How is the New Dispensation related to Mr. Sen ? 
Is he the centre of it, the Great Man in whom it is 
embodied or concentrated ? Mr. Sen does not assume 
such an attitude in plain, unequivocal terms, but he 
does so in a roundabout way. Mr. Sen places his Dis- 
pensation in the same category with the foregoing Dis- 
pensations. In his lecture on Ci "We, Apostles of the 
Isew Dispensation," he thus indicates its position : " I 
say it stands upon the same level with the Jewish Dis- 
pensation, the Christian Dispensation, and the Yaish- 
nava Dispensation through Chaitanya." Some of Mr. 
Sen's utterances are fitted to give it a higher place, but 
on this point we need not insist here. It is enough for 


our argument that Mr. Sen places his Dispensation on 
a par with foregoing ones without the slightest equivo- 
cation. But he does not with equal emphasis place 
himself on a par with the great founders of these suc- 
cessive economies — with Moses, and Christ, and Mo- 
hammed, and Chaitanya. He, however, does so very 
adroitly under color of such humility as might shield 
him from the unpleasant consequences of an open 
assumption of prophetic authority and functions. 

Mr. Sen peremptorily refuses, both in his lecture 
" Am I an Inspired .Prophet ?" and in that on " We, 
Apostles of the New Dispensation," to place himself on 
a par with prophets like Moses and Christ. In the 
latter he distinctly says : " If Christ was the centre of 
His Dispensation, am I not the centre of this ?" 
" Ungenerous and untruthful critics have insinuated 
that, as Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews, for 
which offence His enemies crucified Him, so am I am- 
bitious of being honored as the King of the Indians, of 
the Bengalis, at any rate. Ah, it is certainly not fair 
or kind of our critics to say so. Shall a sinner vie with 
Christ for honors ? God forbid. Jesus was born a 
saint, and I a great sinner. 1 ' In this passage Mr. Sen 
ignores the point at issue, viz. , whether he does not, 
notwithstanding his admitted inferiority to Christ, rep- 
resent himself as the centre of a New Dispensation ? 
In his lecture on " Am I an Inspired Prophet ?" while 
emphatically renouncing all claim to prophetic honor, 
he calls himself "a singular man." "If I am not a 
prophet, ' ' he says, ' ' I am a singular man. I am not 
as ordinary men are, and I say this deliberately." 
Now in what does his singularity, the uniqueness of his 
position, consist ? In his being the head of a New 
Dispensation, the medium of communication between 


heaven and earth, the spokesman of God. Hear what 
he says of his doings and sayings in the same lecture : 
" But men have said that I have been guided by my 
own imagination, reason, and intellect. Under this 
conviction they have from time to time protested 
against my proceedings. They should remember that 
to protest against the cause I uphold is to protest 
against the Dispensation of G-od Almighty. " "In 
doing this work (the work of God) I am confident I 
have not done anything that is wrong. Surely I am 
not to blame for anything which I may have done 
under Heaven's injunction. If any one is to blame, 
the Lord God of Heaven is to blame for having taught 
me and constrained me. ' ' 

The little hesitation he shows in calling himself a 
prophet is so obviously inconsistent with the attitude 
he assumes, that his bosom friends and followers never 
sympathize in it. They publicly proclaim him a 
prophet, the Heaven-honored centre of his own Dis- 
pensation. Hear what the Sunday Mirror says (No- 
vember 16, 1873) : " The minister (Mr. Sen) is, as we 
believe him to be, a part, a great part, a central part 
of the Dispensation. It is he who has given life and 
tone to the entire movement ; and he is completely 
identified with it ; his preaching and precepts we 
accept as the embodiment of the Dispensation itself. 
Thus then we cannot do without this man, who is the 
leader, the mouthpiece, the heaven-appointed mission- 
ary of what we call the Brahmo Somaj." The follow- 
ing dialogue between God and the In ew Dispensation- 
ists, reported in the Sunday Mirror of December 7, 
1879, sets forth the ground on which they rest his 
claim to such dignity : 


" Q. We desire to know thy intention clearly and fully regarding 
our relations to our minister ? 

" A. There is no minister appointed but by Me. Leaders of con- 
gregations are ordained by Me. Therefore, treat your minister as 
one who hath commission from Heaven. His words ye must hear 
with faith and cherish with reverence. 

' ' Q. Has he no errors ? . . . 

" A. With his unofficial position Heaven has nothing to do. If he 
is a bad man at home, unprincipled, selfish, ambitious, angry, 
deceitful, jealous, untruthful, you will not surely imitate his vices, 
etc., etc. 

" Q. How shall we then honor him? If we freely criticise his 
opinions and doings, and condemn whatever is wrong in his tastes 
and ideas and deeds, we must treat him as we treat other people, as 
our equals and inferiors, praising the good and censuring the evil in 
them ? 

" A. As one of you while at home, but not when in his office. His 
official position is different. When he ministers to your spiritual 
wants and offers his prayers and directs his missionary movements, 
and otherwise renders services for your spiritual improvement, then 
bow to him as your minister, and let the whole congregation adopt 
and follow his teachings. 

" Q. In what things are we to take lessons from him ? 

"A. In all matters appertaining to the development and success 
of the present dispensation, etc. 

" Q. So be it. But even in questions like these, shall we follow 
blindly where we cannot comprehend ? 

" A. Not blindly, but faithfully, hoping and believing that I will 
in the fulness of time make all things plain and clear to you. No 
man can fully explain the deep truths of the spirit-world unless the 
Holy Spirit reveals them to each individual. Therefore, believe, and I 
will add to your faith knowledge. 

" Q. One question more, O Lord. If some one think him mis- 
taken in these important matters connected with his official position, 
shall we not try to convince him of his errors and dissuade him from 
his path ? 

"A. It may be you are mistaken, not he, in those particular in- 
stances. Therefore by your remonstrances you may run the risk of 
tempting your minister to disobey Me and transgress My will," etc., 

No one can read this without being reminded of the 

126 BRAHM0IS3I. 

well-known doctrine of papal infallibility, which, if the 
Pope had professed to have derived it from heaven 
direct, conld not have been expressed in terms more 
emphatic. Do not men, who pretend to hold snch 
conversation with God and at the same time langh at 
supernatural or miraculous modes of communication 
between heaven and earth, strain out a gnat and swal- 
low a camel ? 

In 1879 the Brahmo creed was embodied in thirty- 
nine articles, in imitation doubtless of the arrangement 
in the Prayer Book of the Anglican Church. The 
twenty-fifth article runs thus : . " I believe in the inspi- 
ration and truth -teaching power of some of the leaders 
of the Brahmo Somaj, and eminently of Keshub 
Chunder Sen. Some of the most cherished and glori- 
ous truths respecting the nature of God and man we 
have learned from him, and from them. But I do not 
believe that any Brahmo teacher is or has been infalli- 
bly inspired, or that any one of them has, at all times 
and in equal measure, commanded the gift of inspira- 
tion. " (The Theistic Quarterly Review for July, 1879.) 
This passage presents a confusion of ideas not unfre- 
quently met with in Brahmo writing. The Brahmo 
teachers are inspired, and yet not infallibly inspired ! 
If they are inspired by God, they cannot but be infalli- 
bly inspired; and therefore, if they are not infalli- 
bly inspired, their inspiration comes from some other 
source. The article, however, makes it plain that, in- 
stead of a solitary prophet inculcating truth in the 
midst of a crooked and perverse generation, we have 
around the standard of Brahmoism a number of minor 
lights thoroughly eclipsed by one central sun ! ¥e 
are anxious to inquire what " cherished and glorious 
truths" our Brahmo friends have learned from this new 


school of prophets over and above the legacy of divine 
knowledge left behind them by their predecessors. 

Mr. Sen's dogma of inspiration avowedly, if not 
really, excludes supernaturalism. A pamphlet on the 
" Brahmic Doctrine of Inspiration" was published with 
the imprimatur of the Somaj, immediately after the 
disruption. The writer, Babu Durgadass Ray, thus 
speaks of Brahmo inspiration : " Inspiration with a 
Brahmo means not ' an infusion of supernatural ideas, ' 
as old Dr. Johnson and his school of thinkers would 
have it, but the perception of the divine hand in every- 
thing natural " (p. 15). Mr. Ray does not pause to 
inquire how comes the perception, possessed by a few 
solitary persons in different ages and different coun- 
tries, and possessed by Mr. Sen in our own times in a 
higher degree than by any other person. But he 
enters upon a long, if not learned, disquisition to prove 
the very dangerous position embodied in the following 
sentence : "If we believe in inspiration, we must also 
believe it to be quite independent of morality, or rather 
the so-called ethical code of the moralist." From 
what he says, under this head, it is plain that inspira- 
tion should be our guide even if it contravened the 
plain teaching of precedent revelation or conscience. It 
is not our intention to call the principle in question, our 
desire being simply to inquire how inspiration under the 
circumstances is verified or proved. External evidence, 
such as the prophets of Judea and Christ Himself offered 
in attestation of their divine commission — evidence em- 
bodied in miracles of wisdom and miracles of power — is 
out of the question ; and internal evidence, the approval 
of conscience or harmony with existing revelation, is 
also abandoned. All proof then is done away with, and 
inspiration has as little evidence as a whim or a chimera. 


3. What is the object of the New Dispensation ? To 
reconcile all existing dispensations to one another, and 
gather them into one focus. Eead the following ex- 
tracts from Mr. Sen's lecture on " We, Apostles of the 
New Dispensation:" 

" Come then to the synthetic unity of the New Dispensation. You 
will see how all other dispensations are harmonized and unified in 
this, a whole host of churches resolved into a scientific unity. In 
the midst of the multiplicity of dispensations in the world, there is 
indubitably a concealed unity, and it is of the highest importance to 
us all that we should discover it with the light of logic and science. 
. . . All these dispensations are connected with each other in the 
economy of Providence. They are connected in one continuous 
chain which may be traced to the earliest age. They are a con- 
catenated series of ideas, and when rationally apprehended, they 
show a systematic evolution of thought, a development of religious 
life. Popular opinion on this subject has always run in a different 
line. Men have not seen, and therefore they have ignored and 
denied the connecting link between the several dispensations. . . . 
The New Dispensation has discovered the missing link. It has 
found the secret thread which goes through these dispensations, and 
keeps them together. Where others see only confusion and anomaly, 
it sees order and continuity. Joyfully it exclaims, ' I have found 
the science of dispensation at last, unity in multiplicity.' " 

Now what do these smooth periods mean ? Do they 
mean that each of the religions of the world has some 
particles of truth, and that a religion presenting in one 
focus all its sporadic elements scattered in the religious 
literature of the world is destined to supersede all ? If 
such is Mr. Sen's meaning, he must prove his ability to 
discriminate between truth and falsehood with unerring 
certainty, and build up a system of religion unmixed 
with error before anything like a general rush toward 
his dispensation can be realized in this world. Again, 
do these statements mean that beneath masses of con- 
flicting elements presented by the religions of the world 
there are certain underlying doctrines by which they 


may be unified ? If so, Mr. Sen must separate these, 
and show that nothing more is needed to save men 
from sin and uncleanness. But Mr. Sen's meaning- is 
strange, if the following quotation from the Sunday 
Mirror is made our guide : 

" Our position is not that truths are to be found in all religions, 
but that all the established religions of the world are true. There 
is a great deal of difference between the two assertions. The glori- 
ous mission of the New Dispensation is to harmonize all religions 
and revelations, establish the truth of every particular dispensation, 
and upon the basis of these particulars to establish the largest and 
broadest induction of a general and glorious proposition." 

This is a reaffirmation in " glorious" language of the 
current notion of our countrymen, that all the religions 
of the Avorld are true. 

Let Mr. Sen perform the Herculean task of proving 
the truth of each of the innumerable forms of faith, 
rising in an ascending scale from gross fetichism to 
refined monotheism, and attempting their reconcilia- 
tion. And if he succeed, he will effect a greater revo- 
lution in the sphere of human thought than has yet 
been accomplished by the well-known champions of the 
science of religion from whose writings he has derived 
his inspiration. The fact that he contents himself with 
only showing coherence and consistency in the teach- 
ings of Moses, Christ, and Paul, and dexterously leaves 
the larger task of reconciling all the religious books of 
the world in the cold, may be looked upon as a con- 
fession of inability. 

4. ~Now let us come to the Creed of the Dispensa- 
tion. Let it be observed that nothing in connection 
with the notoriously inconstant Brahmoism is so change- 
able as its creed. Who can state the number of the 
creeds which have appeared and disappeared in rapid 


succession in connection with the Somaj during the 
short period of its existence ? The New Dispensation 
is not a lustrum old, and yet two formal creeds and 
several informal ones have emanated from it. The 
Thirty-nine Articles published in 1879 shrivelled in 
1881 into the following brief creed : 

1. One God, one Scripture, one Church. 

2. Eternal Progress of the Soul. 

3. Communion of Prophets and Saints. 

4. Fatherhood and Motherhood of God, Brotherhood 
of man, and Sisterhood of woman. 

5. Harmony of Knowledge and Holiness, Love and 
Work, Yoga and Asceticism, in their highest develop- 

6. Loyalty to Sovereign. 

It is not necessary to take formal notice of each of 
these articles of faith. Two of them, the third and 
fourth, need some explanation, having been proclaimed 
with a flourish of trumpets, and with not a few ele- 
ments of the ludicrous attached to them. 

Mr. Sen in his lecture " We, Apostles of the New 
Dispensation, ' ' thus explains the Communion of Proph- 
ets and Saints : " You have no doubt heard of such a 
thing as Communion of Saints. What is it ? Is it the 
superficial doctrine of objectivity or is it the deeper 
philosophy ? . . . The Christ of older theologies is 
a barren outward fact, the dead Christ of history and 
dogma. But the Christ of the New Dispensation is an 
indwelling power, a living spirit, a fact of conscious- 
ness. It is this philosophy of the subjectivity which 
underlies the Pilgrimages of Saints as they are called. 
... As pilgrims we approach the great Saints, and 
commune with them in spirit. We kill the distance of 
time and space. We enter into them, and they into us. 


111 our souls we cherish them, imbibe their character 
and principles." Mr. Sen's ideal Christ appears here 
at the head of his ideal school of prophets, including 
representatives from one and all the religions of the 
world, from the great teachers of primitive fetichism 
down to Swedenborg, who gave utterance to a similar 
idea, and from whose writings, presented to him in 
England, Mr. Sen has derived much of the inspiration 
which has surrounded his creed with a halo of mys- 

The doctrine thus elucidated did not remain a dead 
letter. It was reduced to practice in right earnest, and 
whole weeks were set apart for such holy communion — 
one for communion with Socrates, one with Moses, one 
with Mohammed, and so on. Each of these weeks 
was followed by a Sunday of special consecration, when 
" a room in Calcutta (Mr. Sen's house) was transformed 
into an historical site in Palestine, Greece, Arabia, 
Northern India ; conversation was carried on with the 
prophet invoked, lessons were taught and learned, and 
a vivid imagination brought the historical person before 
the assembly, and his utterances of centuries ago were 
applied more or less skilfully to the exigencies of the 
present time, or the difficulties of existing -theological 
speculation. ' ' This is an edition somewhat improved, 
of a well-known practice of Comtists, and is perhaps 
adopted to prove that in the New Dispensation a glori- 
ous reconciliation is effected between agnosticism and 
atheism on the one side and pure theism on the other. 

The doctrine of the Motherhood of God was pro- 
claimed with great eclat , and might be looked at as a 
bid for popularity among the worshippers of Durga and 
Kali. Processions heralded by flags with the word 
" Mother" inscribed on them, and enlivened by songs 

132 BKAHM0IS3I. 

in which the word " Mother" occupied the most prom- 
inent place ; and ' ' missionary expeditions' ' into places 
far and near, were the means utilized in giving pub- 
licity to a doctrine, which, though stale, was paraded 
as if it were a grand discovery of the Somaj. But the 
most remarkable thing in connection with this phasis of 
Brahmo development was a public proclamation said to 
have been issued by God Himself as " India's Mother.' ' 
This precious document is quoted by Mr. Sastri, with 
some omission, from Miss Collet's Brahmo Year Book 
for 1880. It runs as follows : 

" Proclamation. 

" To All my Soldiers in India. 

" My affectionate greetings to all. Accept this Proclamation. Be- 
lieve that it goeth forth from Heaven, in the name and with the 
love of your Mother, and carry out its behests like loyal soldiers and 
devoted children. 

" Ye are my soldiers, my covenanted soldiers. Ye are bound to 
fight valiantly and faithfully under my banner, and no other God 
shall ye serve. I will give you victory, and glory eternal shall be 
yours. I have chosen India to show unto all nations the workings 
of my special providence in accomplishing national redemption. 
The British Government is my government, and the Brahmo Somaj 
is my Church. . . . My daughter, Queen Victoria, have I ordained 
and set over the country to rule its people, and give them education, 
material comfort, and protect their wealth and property. ... Be 
loyal to her, for the warrant of her appointment bears my signature. 
. . . Love her and honor her as my servant and representative, and 
give her your loyal support and co-operation, so that she may carry 
out my purposes unhindered, and give India political and material 
prosperity. . . . Tell all the people to come direct to me, without a 
mediator or intercessor, and accept me as their Mother. The influ- 
ence of the earthly mother at home and of the Queen-mother at the 
head of the Government will raise the hearts of my Indian children 
to the Supreme Mother, and I will gather them in the kingdom of 
heaven, and give them peace and salvation. Soldiers, fight bravely 
and establish my dominion. 

[Signed.] " India's Mothee." 


Miss Collet, once a great admirer of Mr. Sen, calls 
this " an undisguised piece of blasphemy." Mr. Sen's 
political utterances are behind the age, and it is to be 
hoped that their object is not to enable him to be in 
good odor with the authorities. 

5. Let us conclude our sketch of the New Dispensa- 
tion with delineations of the most prominent of its rites 
and ceremonies in the words, as far as possible, of its 
champions rather than in our own. 

a. The most prominent place among these must be 
given to the Flag Ceremony. Here is the account 
given in the Sunday Mirror of January 30, 1881 : 
" Every faithful Brahmo and member of the New Dis- 
pensation was exhorted to vow his allegiance to this 
banner of regenerated and saving Theism. Accord- 
ingly, on the evening of the annual festival held on 
Sunday last, the prominent object noticed by the Con- 
gregation was a handsome silk banner, mounted upon a 
silver pole, fixed on the open space of marble pavement 
in front of the pulpit. After the sanhirtan (singing) 
at sunset, began the ceremony announced before of un- 
furling the flag of the New Dispensation. A new form 
of evening worship called arati was gone through. . . . 
The worshippers held each a lighted candle in his hand, 
creating a brilliant and picturesque effect. Dozens of 
musical instruments, from the English bugle and gong 
to the traditional conch -shell, were loudly and simul- 
taneously performed upon. The varied and deepening 
peals issuing from these instruments, combined with the 
voices of scores of men, who stood up and went round 
in circles with burning tapers in their hands, heartily 
chanting the arati hymn, produced upon the immense 
crowd present an effect which must be felt to be de- 
scribed." It is not necessary to say that the words 


"dozens," " scores, 5 ' and " immense" in this extract 
are hyperbolical, and bear the same relation to realities 
which the word " India," when used by Mr. Sen, bears 
to the half dozen men to whom he gives that pompous 
name. It is however necessary to say that a chamar 
was, according to Mr. Sastri, waved by Mr. Sen before 
the banner " in the orthodox idolatrous fashion." It 
was moreover devoutly kissed by Mr. Sen and touched 
and bowed to by his followers. 

o. The ceremony of the Eucharist was performed on 
the 6th of March, 1881. The following account ap- 
peared in the New Dispensation , the paper started and 
edited by Mr. Sen about the time when the flag cere- 
mony was performed : 

" On Sunday, the 6th of March, the ceremony of adapting the Sac- 
rament to Hindu life was performed with due solemnity, in accordance 
with the principles above set forth. The Hindu Apostles of Christ, 
gathered after prayer in the dinner hall, sat upon the floor upon bare 
ground. Upon a silver plate was rice, and in a small goblet was 
water, and there were flowers and leaves around both. The minister 
(Mr. Sen) read the following verses from Luke 22. 

" ' And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it and gave unto 
them saying, This is my body which is given for you. This do in 
remembrance of me. 

" ' Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New 
Testament in my blood which is shed for you.' 

' ' A prayer was then offered asking the Lord to bless the sacra- 
mental rice and water : 

' ' Touch this rice and this water, O Holy Spirit, and turn their 
grossly material substance into sanctifying spiritual forces, that they 
may upon entering our system be assimilated to it as to flesh and 
blood of all the saints in Christ Jesus. Satisfy the hunger and thirst 
of our souls with the rich food and drink Thou hast placed before us. 
Invigorate us with Christ-force, and nourish us with saintly life. 

" The Lord blessed the rice, and He blessed the water. 

"And these were then served in small quantities to those around, 
and men ate and drank reverently, and women and children also ate 
and drank, and they blessed God, the God of prophets and saints." 


c. The Horn ceremony, a bid for popularity among 
Hindus, was performed in the manner indicated in the 
following extract from the New Dispensation : 

" On Tuesday last the sanctuary (a room in Mr. Sen's house) 
witnessed a new and imposing, and, we may add, an instructive 
spectacle. There was a large iron fire-pan in front of the vedi (pul- 
pit) ; in an earthen vessel was ghee or clarified butter, bundles of 
sticks and pieces of firewood were gathered in one place and there 
was a large' metallic spoon. Varieties of beautiful and fragrant 
flowers and evergreens in abundance formed a semicircle skirting 
the place where these things were arranged. No one was prepared 
for such a sight, as none, even among the select few who were 
present, knew what was going to happen. After the introductory 
portion of the service was over, the minister invoked divine blessing 
on the ceremony which was to be performed, and prayed that it 
might become profitable unto the Church. He then lighted up the 
pile before him, and pouring over it clarified butter produced a brisk 
fire, which he thus addressed : 

" ' O thou blazing Agni ! Great art thou, great among the forces 
in creation. We shall honor thee and magnify thee because of thy 
greatness and majesty. Thou art not God. We do not adore thee. 
But in thee dwells the Lord, the eternal, inextinguishable Flame, the 
Light of the Universe, the immanent Fire, the Fire of Fire, whom 
fire doth reveal and glorify. thou brilliant Agni, in thee we be- 
hold our resplendent Lord, ' and so on. 

" Then followed a prayer to God, after which the minister cast the 
six pieces of fuel into the burning fire, the congregation exclaiming 
together, ' Victory to God, Victory to God, Victory to God. ' " 

d. The account of the performance of the ceremony 
of baptism given in the New Dispensation is long, but 
worthy of reproduction, being fitted to give us an in- 
sight into some of the peculiarities of Mr. Sen's system. 

" After service in the Tabernacle the devotees congregated in the 
family sanctuary. The minister took his seat on the vedi, and 
offered a short prayer to the following effect : 

" ' Eternal Spirit, we, Thy pilgrim servants, desire to go on a pil- 
grimage to the Jordan, in the Holy Land, for our redemption's sake. 
We desire to be where, eighteen centuries ago, Jesus, Thy son, was 

130 BRAHiTOIS^r. 

baptized. Gratify, thou, our heart's longing, and guide us and cheer 
us in our pilgrimage.' 

" The devotees then formed a procession, and solemnly moved on, 
singiDg a hymn with the accompaniment of the Mridang, the conch- 
shell and cymbals, till they reached the bathing ghaut of the Komala 
Barabar, the tank attached to the sanctuary. The place had been 
decorated with flowers and evergreens, and the flag of the New Dis- 
pensation was waving in the breeze. The devotees took their seat 
upon the steps of the ghaut ; the minister sat upon a piece of tiger's- 
skin, stretched upon a wooden vedi erected for the occagion. Deep 
silence prevailed. It was midday, the torrid sun burning overhead, 
when the minister addressed his people as follows : 

"•' Beloved brethren, we have come into the land of the Jews, and 
we are seated on the bank of the Jordan. Let them that have eyes 
see. Verily, verily, here was the Lord Jesus baptized eighteen hun- 
dred years ago. Behold the holy waters, wherein was the Son of 
God immersed. See ye where the blessed Jesus and by his side 
John the Baptist, administering the rite of baptism, and behold in 
the sky above the descent of the Holy Ghost. All three are here 
present — Father, Son, Holy Spirit — spiritually united. Pilgrim 
brothers, mark their union to-day on this hallowed spot, and see how 
the water shineth in celestial radiance.' 

" ' O thou Great Varuna, Water of Life. 

' ' Sacred Water, mighty expanse of Seas and Oceans and Kivers, 
we glorify thee. Thou art not God, but the Lord is in thee. Thou 
art full of the beauty and glory of heaven ; each drop revealeth the 
divine face. Thou art the Water of Life. A most helpful friend art 
thou unto us.' . . . 

" The minister then read the whole of Matthew, chapter iii. . . . 
He explained the true secret of baptism thus : 

" ' Why did Jesus plunge into the water of the river ? Because He 
saw the water was full of God. The Omnipresent Spirit of God he 
saw moving upon the face of the waters, and in every drop sparkled 
divinity. In such holy water, in the Jordan of divine life, was Jesus 
immersed. And as he dipped into Divinity, and straightway came 
out of the water, full of new or divine life, and the Holy Spirit over- 
head announced his acceptance by God as His ' Beloved Son.' Thus 
in him was the Father glorified, and likewise the Inspiration of the 
Holy Ghost. Behold, my brethren, the water before us is full of the 
Lord, and blessed are they who are baptized in it as was Jesus of 

" The minister anointed himself with flower-oil and went down 


into the water. Standing with his head above the water and rever- 
ently looking above, he thus prayed : ' May I behold Thy bright and 
sweet face, God, my Father, in the water that encompasses me ! 
Convert this water into the water of grace and holiness that I may be 
immersed in life everlasting. May Thy beloved Son abide in my 
soul ! May John the Baptist be here to administer unto me the 
sacred rite, and may Thy Holy Spirit hover over my head and inspire 
me ! ' 

" Thus saying he thrice immersed himself, saying, ' Glory unto the 
Father, glory unto the Son, glory unto the Holy Ghost.' To mag- 
nify the Three-in-one, he dipped once more, saying, ' Blessed be 
Sacchitananda, Truth, Wisdom, and Joy in One.' 

" With the water he washed his eyes and ears, his hands and feet, 
and prayed with clasped hands." 

With reference to these rites we have a remark or 
two to make. They are in the first place caricatures 
and burlesques, and their result is the universal derision 
in which the New Dispensation is held by our educated 
countrymen in general. They moreover indicate a 
policy not only flexible and compromising, but posi- 
tively suicidal. Their object is to please everybody, 
but their result is — nobody is pleased ! To reconcile, 
not merely the doctrines embodied in the varied relig- 
ions of the world, but the forms and symbols of wor- 
ship associated with them, is the avowed object of the 
new movement, but the result of such un discriminating 
syncretism is, as it always has been, u confusion worse 
confounded." It is worthy of special notice that there 
was an attempt made in the manner in which these 
rites were performed to rationalize and justify the 
primitive beliefs of the country, the well-known tenden- 
cy in Yedic times to worship the elements and annam 
or rice, etc. The sages of ancient India took special 
delight in calling water Brahma, lire Brahma, rice 
Brahma, and almost every conceivable thing Brahma, 
and Mr. Sen in praising these natural objects as full of 

138 BRAHMOIStt. 

Divinity not merely effected a reconciliation of hetero- 
geneous symbols of worship, but attempted in a very 
effective manner to demonstrate the truth of the forms 
of faith that prevailed in the country when the grand 
old hymns of the Rig Yeda were chanted on the banks 
of the Indus. An attempt was made by a single 
stroke of policy to reconcile the Hindus and Christians ; 
and it is only obtuseness on the part of the parties thus 
favored that leads them peremptorily (not to make use 
of the word indignantly) to repel his advances. It is 
also to be remembered that only a very small number 
of persons, about a dozen and a half, including boys, 
went all lengths with Mr. Sen in these demonstrations, 
and that the present moribund condition of the new 
movement is mainly attributable to them. A state- 
ment made the other day in a newspaper, viz., that 
Mr. Sen has in all India no more than fifty-three disci- 
ples, may be a little below the mark, but there are not 
more than a hundred persons in all India who have 
accepted all the vagaries of the New Dispensation, and 
who may justly be called Babu Keshub Chunder Sen's 
followers ! And the bulk of these are evidently not 
intelligent and thoughtful men ; as, if they had been 
such, they would have taken part in that reasonable 
rebellion (against the most obviously irrational princi- 
ples promulgated by Mr. Sen) under the banner of 
rationalism, which is embodied in the Sadharan Brahmo 

Note on the Trinity. —Mr. Sen, bent on pleasing all parties, has 
been, in his treatment of the doctrine of the Trinity, a little more 
politic than Bajah Bam Mohun Roy, who could not conceal his an- 
tipathy to it. In his lecture on ' ' That Marvellous Mystery, the 
Trinity," he tries to reconcile Hinduism with Christianity by reviv- 
ing the triad of Vedantism embodied in the well-known word 
Sacchitananda, and squeezing it into a sort of verbal if not real ac- 


cordance with our views of the holy mystery. He forgets that, ac- 
cording to Vedantism, Brahma is improperly called by that name, in- 
asmuch as he is sat, existence, not " Truth," as Mr. Sen translates 
wrongly, and nothing more ; his knowledge involving no distinction 
between subject and object, and his happiness being without feelhvj 
or consciousness of happiness ! Mr. Sen in speaking of the Trinity 
employs at times language which a Christian might adopt, but he 
veers about, as if afraid of losing thereby the sympathy of the large 
class of Unitarians from whose writings he has often derived his in- 
spiration. He seems to adopt finally, if any sentiment in his Pro- 
teus-like system can be called a finality, what theologians call the 
modal view of the doctrine in question. Hear what he says : " You 
have three conditions, three manifestations of divinity. Yet there is 
one God, one substance amid these phenomena. Not three gods, 
but one God. Whether alone, or manifest in the Son, or quickening 
humanity as the Holy Spirit, it is the same God, the same identical 
deity, whose unity continues divisible amid multiplicity of manifes- 
tations." Again : " But remember the Trinity is not three persons, 
but three functions of the same Person." Mr. Sen descants upon this 
old theory, in his rambling but by no means unattractive way, as if 
it were a discovery of his own. Nay, he goes so far as to affirm that 
this view, so often upheld and so often exploded in the church, has 
been revealed to his " God-consciousness," and that of hundreds of 
men in Calcutta, as a new feature of his novel Dispensation ! 



The leading spirit of the New Dispensation has 
passed away since the foregoing papers were written. 
Babu Keshub Chunder Sen's premature death was 
regarded as a public calamity by all classes of people in 
India, the ruling and the ruled. Meetings were held in 
almost all its great cities to give suitable expression to 
the sense of loss and the profound grief with which the 
disappearance, though not unexpected, of a great and 
good man from the stage of public life could not but be 
regarded. A grand meeting was held in the Calcutta 
Town Hall, not only in honor of his memory, but with 
the avowed object of raising funds and doing something 
handsome to perpetuate it among Ins sorrowing coun- 
trymen. Several of the papers edited by native gentle- 
men appeared with black borders and commendatory 
notices of his labors, and all Indian journals, both Euro- 
pean and native, united in bearing collective testimony 
to the extraordinary ability and goodness of the Re- 
former, who, if a mausoleum like the "Westminster 
Abbey had existed in the country, could not but have 
been enshrined among its illustrious dead in a promi- 
nent, if not the most prominent, niche. His disciples 
went into mourning for a stated number of days, and 
they were directed by proclamation to spend these in 
intense meditation on God as the Mother of the world 
with the beloved child, Keshub Chunder, in Pier arms. 


The highest place was accorded to him among the living, 
and the highest among the dead. In the first gush of 
feeling it was impossible to form a proper estimate of 
the character and career of a man who, in spite of 
temporary fluctuations, occupied a very high place in 
public regard ; but now that the universal and vehe- 
ment sorrow has subsided, a calm review of his life and 
the individuality which runs like a vein of gold through 
it is possible. 

The illustrious lecturer, Joseph Cook, represented the 
Indian Reformer, on his return from his voyage round 
the world, as Cj man of a religious genius. This phrase 
is, we beg to affirm, with due deference to him, both 
unhappy and ambiguous. Genius implies not merely 
an extraordinary power of recombination or reconstruc- 
tion, but the power of discovery and invention. But 
discovery in religion is an impossibility. That man 
cannot by reason search out God is an axiom of Chris- 
tian philosophy, and the difference between the relig- 
ions of the world and Christianity is that, while they 
embody or represent a series of fruitless efforts on the 
part of man to find God, Christianity points to a series 
of loving efforts on the part of God to enlighten and 
save man. God must bring Himself down to the level 
of human comprehension, either by visions and revela- 
tions, or by providential dealings of a miraculous 
nature, or by theophanies and incarnations, or knowl- 
edge of God no amount of genius on the part of man 
can enable him to attain. Genius again is often used 
as convertible with creative power ; but in the region 
of religious truth creation is even a wilder and more 
hopeless effort than discovery. Again, if by genius is 
meant an instinctive perception of truth, how can a 
man, who, with the New Testament open before him, 


wandered very far away from the vital truths of Chris- 
tianity, be represented as especially gifted with it ? 

But perhaps Mr. Cook means by the phrase nothing 
more than a religious temperament. That he was 
characterized from his youth by a strong and irresistible 
proclivity to a religious life is undeniable. In this 
respect he was, when very young, separated by a broad 
iine of demarcation from the youth of his country. 
While they manifested a lamentable proneness to frivol- 
ity and even viciousness, he chose the better part, and 
earnestly endeavored to initiate among them a reform 
which their condition and that of the whole land per- 
emptorily demanded. To universal apathy to the con- 
cerns of religion he opposed a singularly grand earnest- 
ness ; and the zeal with which he held meetings and 
delivered lectures for the benefit of those whose heed- 
less progress toward destruction he deplored cannot be 
sufficiently praised. But his religious temperament 
was unhappily not guided by a sound judgment and a 
well-balanced intellect. In one respect his intellect 
was doubtless of a very high order. He had a resplen- 
dent imagination — an imagination that could not merely 
present ordinary thoughts in an attractive garb, but 
infuse warmth and vitality into the coldest of ideas and 
the wildest of theories. An abstraction ceased to be 
cold and unattractive the moment it passed through the 
blazing furnace of his mind, and even a vagary received 
from it a fascination which truth with its innate charms 
seems to lack when passing through the cold intellect 
of a man prone to philosophize but destitute of poetic 
fervor. But his brilliant imagination was at once his 
strength and his weakness. It checked the proper de- 
velopment of the other faculties of his mind, suppressed 
his reason and judgment, and ultimately led to his 


being victimized by vagaries and chimeras of the wild- 
est stamp. 

As an orator he was certainly without a rival in his 
own country, and without many in the world. His 
style was attractive if not chaste ; his utterances were 
impassioned and fervid ; and the tropes and metaphors 
in which he indulged, though obviously incompatible 
with the approved rules of rhetoric, exercised a weird 
influence over audiences neither very intelligent nor 
very appreciative. His discourses, however, lacked the 
most prominent elements of genuine eloquence — direct- 
ness of purpose, coherence of thought, and accuracy of 
reasoning ; and they were, moreover, marred by an 
egotism which, in spite of his oft-repeated confessions 
of sin and unworthiness, could not but be extremely 
repulsive. A greater mistake could not be made by a 
human being than what led some of his admirers to 
place him as an orator on a par with Gladstone and 
Bright. Barring such excellences as the classical 
purity of their style, the breadth of their scholarship, 
and the range of their thought, there is a gulf impassa- 
ble between what may be called the structure of their 
minds and that of his. His mind, on the whole, was 
weak, theirs is strong. His intellect was ill-regulated, 
ill-balanced, with one faculty disproportionately de- 
veloped, and others scarcely unfolded if not thoroughly 
enslaved. The intellect of these really great men is on 
the whole harmoniously developed, each faculty prop- 
erly cultivated and thereby fitted to contribute its quota 
to the wealth and grandeur of the whole. He was 
thoroughly incapable of doing what they are daily 
doing. He could not take up a subject, sit down and 
master the body of literature associated with it, study 
details, analyze figures, examine all sides, carefully 


weigh the pros and cons, and calmly deduce the conclu- 
sions borne out by facts and statistics. The process of 
reasoning he followed is the antipodes of that followed 
by these great statesmen and orators. His was the 
deductive, while theirs has always been the inductive 
method of reasoning. Sensible men do by no means 
sympathize in the contempt poured upon the deductive 
process by John Stuart Mill. When the general prin- 
ciples from which particular conclusions are deduced 
are sound, and the intervening process is without a 
flaw, the reasoning cannot but be pronounced unexcep- 
tionable, and its results classed among the facts proven. 
But when general principles are heedlessly postulated, 
and some of the intervening steps skipped over, the 
conclusions arrived at cannot but be fallacious, and 
therefore unworthy of acceptance. While men like 
Gladstone study facts and details and rise through the 
varied steps of an accurate process of reasoning from 
particulars to generals, he was plunged into the abyss 
of error by generalizations, gorgeous indeed, but hastily 
assumed, and obstinately maintained in the teeth of 
facts substantiated and deductions sustained by the 
approved canons of correct reasoning. 

To give an example or two : Mr. Sen believed, and 
was never tired of expressing the conviction in his 
fervid style, that the sages of ancient India, especially 
of the age of the Upanishads, professed and elaborated 
a sublime form of Theism — the form, in short, which it 
was his work to revive and promulgate afresh. Upon 
what was this belief on his part based ? Not on his- 
torical or documentary evidence. The Yedas unfold a 
system of polytheism as complicated as that which 
curses our country to-day, and by no means so much 
less degraded as is generally represented by sentimen- 


talists. The earliest and the purest of them, the Rig 
Veda, develops in its heart-stirring hymns a form of 
nature-worship which even Max Miiller discriminates 
from monotheism by such terms as Kathenotheism or 
Henotheism — terms which, if they mean anything at 
all, indicate a system of polytheism of a refined type. 
And as to sublimity of thought and purity of practice, 
another great scholar, Monier Williams, sees in this 
Yeda, along with some sporadic jewels of truth, " pre- 
cepts implying a social condition scarcely compatible 
with the lowest grade of culture and civilization." 
Again, the teaching of the Upanishads may be justly 
represented as vibrating in its earlier stages between 
nihilism and pantheism, and ultimately settling down 
into the latter form of what may be called transcen- 
dental materialism or atheism. Neither the earlier nor 
the later portions of the Vedas present the slightest in- 
dication of an era of theistic belief or theistic devotion. 
Mr. Sen saw such an age of pure faith and practice 
through the lenses of his brilliant imagination, and 
drew even a broader conclusion from it — viz., that a 
sublime type of theism, elaborated by human reason 
with the help of such inspiration as is common to relig- 
ious teachers, philosophers, and poets, was the primitive 
faith of every nation on the surface of the globe. And 
after having allowed himself to be victimized by a gen- 
eralization, gorgeous though false, he had no alternative 
but to set himself to the task of misconstruing texts 
and distorting facts. 

Mr. Sen formed a theory of the Person of Christ and 
His work essentially different from what has been 
received as orthodox in the Church from its foundation 
in the days of the apostles down to the present mo- 
ment. How did he form it ? Not certainly by care- 

146 BKAHM0IS3I. 

fully studying and analyzing the received theology of 
the Church with its standards and symbols ; not even 
by a calm study of the Bible and an analysis of the 
almost innumerable texts referring to the subject ; but 
by hastily snatching a sentiment from one school of 
ancient philosophers, another from heretical writings, 
a third from the tomes of mysticism, and a fourth from 
"the speculations of rationalism. This composite theory 
was matured in Mr. Sen's fertile mind ; it appeared hi 
glowing colors in his public utterances, and it had to 
be upheld as the primitive faith of the Church buried 
under its dogmatic lore, and disinterred by him. And 
texts were misconstrued and facts distorted with an 
audacity which, but for the example set by Paulus, 
Schenkel, and Strauss, would be pronounced unparal- 
leled, lie himself confessed, in one of his Town Hall 
lectures, that he was not in the habit of reading, and 
that all the truths he proclaimed regarding bygone ages 
and historical characters were communicated to him by 
a series of direct but not supernatural inspirations. 
And he was right, if by inspirations we understand the 
ebullitions of a fervid but ill-regulated imagination. 

Again, while the minds of these statesmen are of a 
practical order and averse to Quixotic schemes and 
projects, Mr. Sen was a visionary and a dreamer. The 
idea of a religious syncretism, which had assumed a 
vivid form in the mind of Rajah Ram Mohun Roy, 
became in him a deep conviction and an all-absorbing 
passion. By him it was not merely entertained amid 
sanguine hopes of immediate realization, but expanded 
to an obviously preposterous extent. He not merely 
believed in the existence of sporadic elements of truth 
in one and all the religions of the world, and in the 
possibility of their being brought into one focus, and 


thus made to constitute one comprehensive scheme of 
faith and practice ; but he maintained that they were 
all true, and that all that was needed to effect their 
unification was the discovery of what he was pleased to 
call a string of union. Every religion, from fetichism 
up to pure monotheism, represents, according to his 
belief, a dispensation of God ; and consequently a union 
of all the conflicting systems of belief is not merely a 
possibility, but sure to be a realized certainty under the 
banner of the New Dispensation. An idea more wild 
could scarcely be entertained by a human mind, and 
the bare fact that he allowed it to be the master passion 
of his soul is a proof of an ill-regulated and ill-balanced 
intellect. Had he studied history and weighed calmly 
the results of the syncretistic efforts put forth by men 
greater than himself, the philosophical and theosophical 
union attempted by Ammonius Saccas and others in 
the West, and by the authors of Swetaswatara Upan- 
ishad and Bhagavada Gita in the East, the theological 
syncretism attempted in modern Germany, his sanguine 
hopes would have given place to cold despair. But he 
was averse to reading and calm thought, and prone to 
allow his brilliant mind to be completely enslaved by 
visionary schemes and grand but dreamy generaliza- 

The impossibility of the " synthesis" Mr. Sen worked 
hard to realize will become apparent if one of the fun- 
damental principles of the New Dispensation is taken 
into consideration. That principle is, in Mr. Sen's 
phraseology, immediacy ', or direct intercourse with God, 
and a denial of the doctrine of mediation. Mr. Sen 
evidently believed that this doctrine was a non-essential 
feature of the positive religions of the world — a feature 
of so little importance that he had only to unfurl the 


flag of his Dispensation, with the word immediacy 
inscribed in characters of gold, to effect its immediate 
extinction. He held to the diverse religions of the 
world what was pompously represented as the language 
of peace and amity, but he lacked penetration to see 
that he was, by a denial of mediation, simply declaring 
a war of extermination against the systems he wished 
to reconcile with one another, and with his own 
theory. Christianity, for instance, could not be called 
upon to abandon the doctrine of mediation without 
pouring out its very life-blood ; and the invitation 
extended to her by the Indian Reformer to give up 
mediacy and accept immediacy may remind one of the 
wholesale union proposed when the lamb was invited to 
make peace with the tiger by lying in the bloodthirsty 
animal ! 

Mr. Sen, moreover, was not only a visionary but a 
fanatic of the first water. His imagination predomi- 
nated over the nobler faculties of his mind so com- 
pletely that during especially the last few years of his 
life he believed, and did not hesitate to proclaim, 
that he was the chosen medium of communication 
between God, the Father of peace, and the world, so 
obviously torn and lacerated by theological disputes 
and ecclesiastical dissensions. His theory of inspiration 
was at first the natural one, which, for instance, led the 
disciples of Plato to represent him as " God-enlight- 
ened." But it gradually assumed a form which can 
scarcely be differentiated from that theory of supernat- 
ural revelation which forms a prominent feature of 
Christian orthodoxy. He made use of the old prophetic 
formula, " thus saith the Lord,' ' with an emphasis from 
which devotees of natural inspiration would recoil in 
horror. He issued proclamations and manifestoes in the 


name of God, and published dialogues said to have 
been held between the Creator and His disciples with 
reference to the claim of infallibility he advanced as 
the centre of a new dispensation. Nay, he professed 
to be immediately guided by God, not only in his official 
capacity, but as a private person ; not only in matters 
of doctrinal belief and ritualistic practice, but even in 
those affecting the interests of his domestic life. He 
traced the marriage of his first daughter to an Indian 
prince to a direct revelation, as well as his deter- 
mination to set up the banner of the New Dispensa- 
tion ! What shall we say with reference to these pre- 
posterous pretensions ? Was he sincere, or was he not, 
in advancing them ? We believe he was sincere, simply 
because he advanced them with the consciousness that 
they were fitted to alienate from him the educated 
community, of which he was a distinguished member, 
and diminish the respect entertained for him by the 
most sensible of his foreign friends and supporters. If 
the theory that he was a pretender cannot under the 
circumstances be entertained, the conclusion is inevi- 
table that he was a fanatic and a dupe. 

That Mr. Sen was a man of unparalleled popularity 
both among the ruling and the ruled classes is a patent 
fact ; and the phenomenon can be easily explained. 
He was a man of extraordinary ability, a born orator, 
and an earnest social reformer. But these excellences, 
however commendable, cannot of themselves account 
for the conspicuous place he occupied in public venera- 
tion. To these must be added the circumstance that 
he very worthily occupied an intermediate position be- 
tween Christianity and the religions of the country. 
There are in the official circles in India many so-called 
Christians and pronounced infidels who believe that the 


religion of Christ is after all not suited to the genius of 
the Hindu people, and that consequently all attempts 
to propagate it within the boundary lines of their coun- 
try must end in failure. Nor can these people with 
open eyes fail to see that the grovelling superstitions 
prevalent among them cannot maintain their degrading 
sway in the teeth of the moral forces brought to bear 
on the country by Western civilization and Western 
culture. These being doomed, something must be sub- 
stituted, and Mr. Sen's scheme has appeared to them 
as the scheme best fitted to check the progress of the 
one and take the place of the others. To them, there- 
fore, Mr. Sen appeared a champion worthy of support 
and encouragement, and they lavished their patronage 
on him. Again, the educated natives long for an inter- 
mediate halting stage between the prevalent Hinduism, 
of which they are thoroughly ashamed, and Christian- 
ity, the peculiar doctrines of which they regard with 
repugnance. They therefore eagerly gathered around 
the Indian reformer, who not merely supplied the halt- 
ing-stage they had been in quest of, but flattered their 
national vanity by professing to have derived the best 
principles of his new faith from the literature of the 
country, and discovering an esoteric meaning even in 
the superstitions they were prone to look upon with 
disfavor. Mr. Sen's popularity waned during the last 
few years of his life, in consequence of the vagaries he 
indulged in, and his following dwindled down to a 
handful of persons of not very superior education, bar- 
ring, of course, his own brother and the present unrec- 
ognized leader of his movement, Mr. Protap Chunder 
Mazoomdar, and a man here and there. As an orator 
and a social reformer he retained his influence intact 
up to the last moment of his life. 


Mr. Sen did not live as an ascetic. He lived amid 
the attractions and endearments of domestic life, in a 
commodious and well-furnished house, with a fruitful 
vine by its sides, olive plants round about his table, 
numerous relations and friends, and a retinue of retainers 
and servants. He appeared neatly and respectably 
dressed, travelled first class, figured away in private 
parlors and public draw r ing-rooms, attended vice-regal 
levees and receptions, introduced his daughters by mar- 
riage into the wealthiest of families, married his son to 
an accomplished lady amid aristocratic pomp, and led, 
on the wmole, the life of a metropolitan magnate rather 
than that of a religious recluse. He was avowedly a 
warm advocate of Yoga philosophy, and he at times 
affected or burlesqued a few of the least painful sacri- 
fices of the life of extraordinary austerity associated 
with it ; but between his style of living and that of a 
Ybgee properly so called, there is a gulf impassable. 
JSTor was Mr. Sen obviously dead to those imperious 
calls of secular ambition, the tempations of which men 
of ability find it so hard to resist. He blew his own 
trumpet, and never scrupled to raise himself by varie- 
ties of means, on the wdiole fair, to the pinnacle of 
fame on which he shone alone among his countrymen. 

An important question ought to be disposed of before 
an attempt is made to show" how far his standpoint is 
from that of the Church of Christ. Was Mr. Sen thor- 
oughly sincere ? In the beginning of his career he was 
doubtless more sincere than he was when crowned with 
world-wide fame, and blessed with the plenitude of 
patronage and applause. But it is questionable whether 
he ever was thoroughly and unreservedly sincere. Had 
he been so, or had a thorough-paced sincerity been in 
his case associated with complete self-abnegation, genu- 

152 BRAHM0IS1I. 

ine humility, and pure love of truth, he would not have 
been allowed by a Merciful Father to go so far astray as 
to believe in his prophetic vocation, and claim to be 
the heaven-appointed and God-enlightened centre of 
the last and best of divine dispensations. The extrava- 
gances and vagaries in which he indulged, especially 
during the closing period of his career of reform, are a 
proof, like those into which Mohammed was betrayed, 
or by which the founder of Mormonism was victimized, 
of some degree of insincerity and falsity. Like some 
great leaders of religious schism and heresy, as well as 
of wild, infidel factions, he allowed intellectual pride 
and worldly ambition to mar the degree of sincerity 
with which he began his career as an inquirer, and the 
consequence was that he was hurried by a weak judg- 
ment and uncontrollable feelings to conceits and 
chimeras which have rarely been paralleled, never sur- 
passed, even in the history of wild enthusiasm. What 
a power he would have been if he had been thoroughly 
sincere in the beginning of his career, and if his extra- 
ordinary abilities had been guided by a more genuine 
love of truth, a calmer intellect, a sounder judgment, 
and a less domineering individualism ! 

From Mr. Sen's individuality we now pass on to his 
creed, if a series of shifting beliefs can be called a 
creed. And the first question we raise is, What 
thinks he of Christ ? Does he believe in the Supreme 
Divinity of Christ in the sense in which the Church in 
all its sections holds the doctrine as life % JSTo. His 
utterances are ambiguous, as his object seems many- 
sided, to conciliate all classes of people — Christians, 
infidels, Hindus, and Mussulmans. But if they are 
thoroughly sifted and analyzed, as they were in a 
preceding paper, they will be found to constitute an 


emphatic denial of this cardinal truth of the Christian 
scheme. His followers are more outspoken than he 
was for obvious reasons, and the following extract from 
a pamphlet recently handed to the writer in the Punjab 
says distinctly and without equivocation what he says 
under a cloud of pompous but misleading phraseology : 
' ' It will thus be clear to you that we are not for a sec- 
tarian Christ. We neither believe ourselves, nor do we 
ask any one to believe in the divinity of Christ, that is, 
the Godhead of Christ. When we ask you to accept 
Christ, we do not mean by Christ the man-made God, 
because we have had enough of man-worship ; nay, 
worse than that, the stone-worship ; and I say worse 
than these two, the brute worship also. We do not 
mean by Christ, man-God. Was not Jesus the son of 
man ? How can the son of man be the Almighty 
God ? You, my Christian brethren, may say that 
Christ was the son of God. Exactly so ; but His 
being the son of God disproves rather than proves any 
claim for him to Godhead. It clearly shows that He 
was the ' created, ' and not the Creator. How can 
} r ou confound the 'sent' with the ' sender,' the 
4 messenger ' with the King of kings ? How can you 
exalt the son to the rank and dignity of the Father, 
who is All-Perfection ?" The pamphlet from which 
the above is quoted and other extracts are to be pre- 
sented, was published in 1882 under the auspices of the 
" JBrahmo Mandir, Lahore" at the Tribune Press. Its 
author calls himself " a Punjabi Brahmo of the New 
Dispensation," and, though its style is not character- 
ized by much purity and elegance, it is an unexception- 
ably correct index to the views entertained by Mr. Sen 
and his followers. 

Mr. Sen's Christology, like the other articles of his 

154 BRAHMOISir. 

shifting creed, passed through varied phases of develop- 
ment, and rose from one degree of perfection to an- 
other ; but in its completed form it fell far short of the 
belief of the Church. Latterly he allowed his views 
on the Person of Christ to be shaped by wild specula- 
tions similar to those indulged in by the champions of 
the varied phases of Gnosticism which prevailed in the 
first and second centuries of the Christian era, and 
which attempted a heterogeneous mixture of Christian 
truth with the form of philosophy called ISTeo-Platonism. 
For instance, when he affirms that Christ dwelt as an 
idea in the Father before the creation of the world, the 
mind is called back to the theory of ideas elaborated by 
Plato, and the modifications it underwent in the hands 
of Philo and some champions of the Gnostic heresy. 
The archetypal ideas of the Greek philosopher were 
transformed by the Jewish thinker into potencies or 
forces, and these were all united into an aeon, called the 
Power of powers, the Idea of ideas. This aggregate 
potency was subsequently personified by some Gnostic 
philosophers into what they were pleased to call the 
seon Christ. This personified idea, the first of a series 
of aeons the genealogy of which was set forth with 
minuteness of detail, descended, according to Cerinthus, 
and entered into the substance of Jesus at the time of 
His baptism, and left Him before His arrest and cruci- 
fixion, staying with but not partaking of His passion. 
As the Gnostics attempted to bring into the Church 
many of the conceits and fancies of Greek philosophy as 
modified by Philo, Mr. Sen incorporated or tried to 
incorporate a little of Hindu philosophy with Christian 
truth. In Vedic times God was called Sachchitananda, 
and represented as a trinitarian essence consisting of 
Sat, or Existence, Chit, or Intelligence, and Ananda, 


or Joy. The second element of this trinity, Chit, was 
somewhat like the Logos or Reason or Thought of 
Platonic philosophy, and the Power of Philo. Mr. Sen 
pressed this element into service, and represented it as 
the Christ who had dwelt as an Idea in the bosom of 
God, a Thought or a Potency. The Spirit of the 
Christ, or the brightest effluence from Him, descended 
and took possession of the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, 
and made Him a bright example of purity, love, self- 
surrender, and martyr-like devotion. But the Christ 
did not confine Himself to this Prince of Reformers, or 
make Him the sole depository of His spirit. He 
favored the other great reformers that cluster around 
Him, Socrates, Confucius, Buddha, Nanak, Theo- 
dore Parker, and Emerson, and many others too nu- 
merous to be named, with bright effluences, which 
made them also examples of the excellences which 
shone in Jesus a little more brightly. And when the 
world was brought to the verge of moral ruin by relig- 
ious disputes and theological wrangling, the last bright 
effluence descended and took possession of the person of 
Keshub Chunder Sen, and made him the centre of a 
dispensation of peace and concord ! The Christ of 
Babu Keshub Chunder Sen is an Imaginary Christ, an 
Ideal Christ, a Force, an Intelligence, an Abstraction 
with potentialities entombed in it. His Christ was not 
the historical Christ worshipped in the Church. 

But it must be added that the Potency is all-embrac- 
ing, not by any means confined to the roll of reformers 
and devotees. A particle of it is to be found in every 
human being, if not in every unit of the animal creation 
and every object of the material world. The Christ 
has diffused Himself by self-diremption through the 
three kingdoms of nature, and the various orders of 


beings which inhabit ethereal regions, and which may 
be represented as aeons proceeding from the Universal 
Father through Him. Mr. Sen's utterances on the 
Person of our Lord are characterized, as all his utter- 
ances are, by incoherence, ambiguity, and mysterious- 
ness ; and they cannot possibly be made the basis of a 
consistent Christology. But if all his utterances, earlier 
and later, were carefully sifted, they would tend to 
bring one to the conclusions at which we have arrived, 
not only after careful study, but after a long conversa- 
tion with him, and many an interesting talk with many 
of his leading followers. 

The personal experiences to which Mr. Protap Chun- 
cler Mazoomdar called attention in a grand meeting held 
in Boston are fitted to uphold these conclusions regard- 
ing Mr. Sen's Christology. That much must be deducted 
from Mr. Mazoomdar' s statement is apparent from the 
rhetorical embellishments with which it abounds. The 
man cannot be credited with much earnestness or prac- 
tical good sense who in a narrative of personal conver- 
sion cannot rise above the rhetoric displayed in the fol- 
lowing sentences : " The gloomy and haunted shades 
of the summer evening had suddenly thickened into 
darkness, and all things far and near had assumed an 
unearthly mysteriousness. I sat near the large lake in 
the Hindu College compound. Above me rose in a 
sombre mass the giant, grim old seesum-tree, under the 
far- spreading foliage of which I had played so often, 
and my father played before me. A sobbing, gusty 
wind swam over the water's surface, the ripples 
sounded on the grassy bank, the breeze rustled in the 
highest regions of the great tree. " In the narrative 
spun out in this pompous style Mr. Mazoomdar ex- 
presses the peace he experienced after a period of relig- 


ious struggle in consequence of a blessing he received 
from Christ in these words : " Jesus lay discovered in 
my heart as a strange human kindred love, as a repose, 
a sympathetic consolation, an unpurchased treasure to 
which I was freely invited." Again : ," It was not a 
bodily Christ then ; it is much less a bodily emanation 
now. A character, spirit, a holy, sacrificed, exalted 
self, whom I recognize as the true Son of God. ' ' A 
Christian may speak of the presence of Christ in his 
heart in these words, but as he believes that Christ in 
heaven has a human body, though spiritualized and 
glorified, he cannot possibly describe Him as only a 
' ' character, " a " spirit, " a " self, " a " love, ' ' a 
"repose," a "consolation ;" and his creed makes it 
impossible for him to draw a sharp line of demarcation 
between His " bodily" and His spiritual presence in 
the soul. Mr. Mazoomdar attributes to Christ a kind 
of ' ' personality, ' ' a personality with which the aeons 
of Philo and the Gnostics were invested, a personality 
which Plato gave to his ideas, and between which and 
impersonality there is scarcely a shade of difference. 
The presence of this tiny, intangible, mysterious per- 
sonality in his soul — that is, of the love, repose, and 
consolation he experienced — has to be accounted for ; 
and Mr. Mazoomdar traces it to" the indwelling pres- 
ence of God alone." Christ, therefore, is the effect not 
the cause of his conversion, and sanctification ! 

The views of the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and 
Atonement of Christ presented in the pamphlet already 
referred to and laid under contribution confirm what 
has been said regarding Mr. Sen's Christology. Re- 
garding the Incarnation, the writer says : " Who will 
accept the Sacred Word of God, or what effect can this 
Word have upon the unbelieving world, until it is 

158 BRAH310ISM. 

transformed into a living character in the lives of the 
believers themselves ? Hence religion is character. 
Nineteen centuries ago a rare phenomenon was wit. 
nessed by the world. Keligion was brought down from 
its Himalayan heights to the plain level of humanity. 
The Word of God which is often on men's lips was 
eaten and digested by Jesus. Being thus assimilated, 
i the "Word was made flesh. ' " This writer does not seem 
to have made as much progress in theosophical specula- 
tion as the leader whom he implicitly follows, and he 
veers about in his statements about the Word of God, 
inclining on the whole to the view which represents it 
as identical with revealed truth. But it is worthy of 
notice that if we identify the Word of God with the 
Eeason of Platonic philosophy, or the all-embracing 
Potency of Philo, or the Logos of Gnosticism, we have 
here almost the same view of the incarnation which 
was propounded by Cerinthus and his followers. 

On the crucifixion of Christ we have these utter- 
ances : " What is meant by Cross ? Cross is the 
symbol of crucifixion. But crucifixion of what ? Of 
the body of Christ ? What ! Christ came and lived 
and died to this end in the world — to commit suicide — 
for is it not written in the Gospels that Jesus surren- 
dered Himself into the hands of His enemies of His 
own accord ? What a monstrous view then of the 
crucifixion of Christ ! No, not the crucifixion of the 
body of Christ. Then of what ? Of the soul of 
Christ ? Never ; that is simply impossible. The soul 
of Christ is immortal, and hence cannot be crucified. 
At least you Christians who believe in the resurrection 
of Christ can never say so. Of the good works and 
holy life of Christ \ Even this cannot be, since char- 
acter never dies. If then it is not the crucifixion of 


the body of Christ, of the soul of Christ, of the divine 
life of Christ, what is it then that bleeds on the cross ? 
The crucifixion of Christ is not a dream that Christ 
dreamt. It is a fact in the religious world. It is the 
fact in the life of every God-fearing Christian man or 
woman. Something was crucified in which the whole 
Christendom seeks atonement. Yiewed in the light of 
the New Dispensation, it was the self-sacrifice, the 
crucifixion of the lower or the human self of Christ. 
Jesus, you vow, was the Son of man as well as the Son 
of God. The Son of God was not crucified, can never 
be crucified. While on the earth this heaven-born Son 
was at one with the Father, and now He sits on the 
right hand of God. But the Son of man was cruci- 
fied." Barring the ludicrous mistake into which the 
writer falls when he represents Christians as believing 
in the resurrection of the soul of Christ, after having 
pointed out the impossibility of its death, here we see 
a broad fine of distinction drawn between Christ as 
human and Christ as divine, which Christians repudiate 
and which nothing but the theory of an ason entering 
into and enlivening the humanity of Jesus can justify. 
And the crucifixion of Christ is distinctly represented 
as indicating the death of His lower self, and as 
repeated in every man of God on the surface of the 
globe. The writer elsewhere calls Christ God-man, 
and to protect poor Christians from misapprehension, 
thus explains the phrase : " Christ was not simply 
good man, but Gocl-man, which means godly-man." 
Every godly man therefore has a bit of that aaon which 
remained in Him, but did not partake either of His 
frailties or of His sufferings ! 

The writer's notion of the atonement cannot but be 
of a piece with what he says about the crucifixion of 


Christ. The atonement is that act of spiritual self- 
sacrifice in Christ which is repeated in every godly 
man,- and without which complete devotion to the 
service of God is an impossibility. The writer after 
having confounded divine grace with the law of God, 
nay, after having represented it as " the law itself," 
says : ' ' Now the law of God is nothing but the Holy 
Word of God. Hence to believe in God's Word is to 
receive His grace. God's Word is full of grace and 
justice, and in the fulfilment of that Word is the salva- 
tion of the sinner. But a real belief in the Word of 
God necessitates, as I have already stated, the sacrifice 
in the interests of humanity of all that is dearest to the 
believer in this world, nay, his very life, if need be. 
Therefore God's grace comes through kurbani (sacrifice). 
Nay, it is kurbani itself. The idea of kurbani is as 
universal as the Word itself, but as the Word is made 
flesh in very rare instances, so in like manner genuine 
cases of kurbani are very few and far between." The 
confusion of ideas presented in this passage is perhaps 
to be found nowhere except in Mr. Sen's discourses, 
and those of others whom he has taught to dream and 
rhapsodize as he did to his heart's content. The 
words grace, law, and sacrifice are used as synonymous 
or thoroughly identical in meaning, and salvation is 
made dependent on our reception of what is meant 
by them. Attach the meanings these words ordinarily 
explain, and you have in the passage confusion worse 
confounded ; but apply the seon theory, and it ceases 
to be meaningless. If the Word of God alias grace, 
alias sacrifice were regarded as a potency its reception 
into the heart could not but result in complete self -sur- 
render and self-immolation. 

The aeon theory is wrought out even more promi- 


nently in what the writer says on regeneration : u Re- 
generation is only possible through faith in self-sacri- 
fice. So long as the self in us lives, we should not for 
a moment believe that we are saved. It is when the 
self is mercilessly cut into pieces and is dead that we 
truly believe and are in reality saved. I do not mean 
by self the self that comes from above, but the unbe- 
lieving self in man, the root of all worldliness. ' ' Here 
we have a double self, the human and the divine, as in 
Christ. Let it be remembered that in the scheme of 
salvation thus developed, Christ is the subject of con- 
version, regeneration, and sancti fixation , not the author 

We do not for a moment affirm that the ambiguous 
expressions in these passages cannot be made by a par- 
donable stretch of charity to conform to Christian 
ideas ; but we do maintain that nobody can carefully 
study the literature of the ISew Dispensation without 
coming to the conclusion that they are intended to 
degrade rather than properly represent the Lord Jesus 
Christ and His great salvation. Mr. Sen may justly 
be represented as a Gnostic of the Hindu school, and as 
the author of a heresy opposed to the vital truths of 
Christianity. Tradition assures us that the beloved 
Apostle John peremptorily declined to enter the same 
baths with Cerinthus because he was afraid the struct- 
ures might come down to crush his damnable heresy ; 
while Marcion, a follower of the heresiarch, when he 
requested Polycarp to own him as a brother, had this 
sharp reply : " I own thee as the firstborn of Satan." 
In the teeth of such facts, why should we allow our- 
selves to be impelled by morbid sentimentalism to re- 
ceive as a champion of Christianity a man who system- 
atically lowered the Person and work of Christ by dis- 


torting facts, misconstruing texts, and presenting the 
creations of a diseased imagination as revelations from 
God ? 

Let it be added that our Lord is not even named in the 
creed of the New Dispensation. To enable the reader 
to see this, let the creed be once more presented : 

i ' One God, one Scripture, one Church. 

• ' Eternal Progress of the Soul. 

' ' Communion of Prophets and Saints. 

' ' Fatherhood and Motherhood of God, Brotherhood 
of man and Sisterhood of woman. 

"Harmony of Knowledge and Holiness, Love and 
Work, Yoga and Asceticism in their highest develop- 

" Loyalty to Sovereign." 

Christ is not mentioned even by name, but He doubt- 
less occupies a place, perhaps the chief place, among 
the Prophets and Saints with whose disembodied spirits 
communion is to be maintained, and He shares the 
veneration of mankind with Mohammed, who brought 
down a text from heaven to justify his illicit inter- 
course with the wife of his adopted son ; Narad, the 
notorious makebate among the Hindu gods ; Chai- 
tanya, who revived in Bengal the worship of the god 
of licentiousness, justly called the Bacchus of India ; 
Nanak, who cherished the wild idea of effecting a union 
between Hinduism and Mohammedanism ; Buddha and 
his modern imitator, Comte, who tabooed theology and 
divorced morality from religion ; Theodore Parker, 
who lived by abusing Christian orthodoxy and wavered 
between monotheism and pantheism ; Emerson, who 
believed in nothing but self ! The Christian's blood 
must be cold indeed who can see the crucified Nazarene, 
the Captain of his salvation, the Author and Finisher of 


his faith, degraded to such association without being 
filled with indignation ! 

Mr. Sen's One Scripture is a direct attack on the in- 
fallibility of those records which we Christians look up 
to as the standard of our theology and religion. The 
Church of Christ is divided into almost innumerable 
denominations, and it is unhappily the scene of theo- 
logical disputes and ecclesiastical broils, now certainly 
bloodless, but once by no means so. But all its con- 
flicting sections have vied with one another in regard- 
ing the Bible as the Word of God, the rule of faith and 
practice, and the last court of appeal in all controver- 
sies, theological and ecclesiastical. An attack on this 
palladium of truth is an attack on the foundations of 
Christianity. What treatment does this Book of books 
receive at the hands of the Brahmo reformer ? It is 
placed on a par with the Yedas, the Koran, and even 
the Purans. The writer of the pamphlet alluded to 
says : " But the question here "arises, What is it in 
which the sinner is required to have his faith % It is 
essentially necessary to settle this important question 
first of all. Are we to believe in the Yedas, or the 
Koran, the Bible or the Purans ? Are we to believe 
the Christian or the Mohammedan, the Hindu or the 
Buddhist, or are we to depend solely upon our own in- 
tellects for guidance in such a solemn question as that 
of everlasting life or death ? The Christians believe 
that their Bible contains the whole truth, and nothing 
but the truth ; and so do the Mohammedans, the 
Hindus, and others say in regard to their respective 
scriptures." Again : " In whose word then are we to 
believe ? You are already aware that we, Brahmos, 
recognize the sublime truths contained in the scriptures 
of different nations, and give due credit to all those who 

164 BRAHM0IS3I. 

sincerely preach and teach according to them. Because 
the New Dispensation, to which we belong, has come 
not ' to destroy ' but to e fulfil,' not to separate but to 
collect all the scattered fragments of Divine Revelation, 
and to unite them into a homogeneous whole. ' ' Need 
we say that the Christians, who show a culpable prone- 
ness to patronize the New Dispensation, encourage 
that the issue of which is the degradation of their Lord 
to the level of human beings, and of their Holy Script- 
ures to the level of human writings ? 

Here it should be remarked that Mr. Sen, in calling 
upon men to recognize his ability to construct out of 
the varied scriptures, in which truth is in his opinion 
sadly intermixed with and buried under error, a script- 
ure containing the truth and nothing but the truth, not 
only forgets but contradicts himself. Mr. Sen calls 
himself a sinner, and goes so far as to affirm that he 
has, like Judas Iscariot, betrayed his Master. He 
cannot but admit that as a sinner his heart is depraved, 
his judgment is warped, and his native perception of 
truth is made obtuse. If so, how is it possible for him 
to separate with intuitional or unerring certainty the 
wheat from the chaff in the varied scriptures, and 
gather the one into his garner and burn the other with 
fire unquenchable ? If in reply he affirms he has what 
appears to him true in these scriptures attested by 
divine revelations, how is he sure that he does not mis- 
take, for them his own fancies, especially when subjec- 
tive evidence is the only evidence utilized, and that of 
an objective character thrown out of calculation ? But 
what Mr. Sen cannot do Christ could. He was, accord- 
ing even to Mr. Sen, sinless, and consequently His 
moral nature was not vitiated, and its percipient facul- 
ties paralyzed. He could instinctively perceive truth 


wherever it might be found, separate it from error with 
unerring certainty, and build up a system to which no 
exception can possibly be taken by minds free from the 
incubus of sin. And when Mr. Sen raises up the stand- 
ard of a dispensation higher than that of Christ, he 
simply contradicts and stultifies himself. He may, 
however, say that he is only reviving the defunct econ- 
omy of Christ ; if so, what right has he to characterize 
his dispensation as new ? 

His One Church represents not only a heterogeneous, 
nondescript compound of conflicting beliefs, but an 
agglomeration of the varied symbols of worship and 
sacraments of religion associated with the varied 
systems of faith prevalent in the world. We Christians 
have no business to object to his having a "sacred 
dance," a " sacred jugglery," or meetings — shall we 
say seances f — held to hold communion with the spirit 
of Socrates or the shade of Menu. But we cannot but 
object to the audacity with which he was pleased to 
desecrate the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist 
under the banner of his new dispensation. The holy 
sacraments have, we maintain, been always adminis- 
tered in the church by men appointed for the purpose, 
and in a manner calculated to set forth their impor- 
tance as means of grace, if not sources of spiritual life ; 
and to-day, as forms instituted by Christ Himself, they 
are regarded by all classes of Christians with peculiar 
reverence, not certainly with superstitious veneration. 
And certainly they cannot with indifference or apathy 
behold these holy rites parodied, or converted into 
farces by men who never take the trouble of looking 
into their intrinsic meaning or the purposes they are 
intended to subserve. Why should Christian patronage 
be lavished on a Church in which Christ is brought 


clown to the level of human beings, the Bible is repre- 
sented as a piece of human composition, the God of the 
Old Testament is facetiously described as " a bearded 
Jew," and the holy sacraments of baptism and the 
Lord's Supper are burlesqued ? 

Again the exaggerated importance Mr. Sen attaches 
in his creed to Yoga and asceticism discriminates it 
from the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ was 
the man of the people, and His religion is the religion 
of the people. Christianity sanctifies the varied rela- 
tions and occupations of life, dignifies labor, hallows 
matrimony, elevates society, purifies trade and com- 
merce, consecrates the varieties of industries and activi- 
ties of which the world is the theatre, the trophies of 
human ingenuity, the triumphs of civilization, and the 
products of mental toil. And it nowhere represents 
asceticism as a stepping-stone to extraordinary knowl- 
edge and insight and high-toned piety. Asceticism 
was doubtless incorporated with it, as well as the wild 
speculations of heathen philosophy by philosophizing 
Christians ; and it is a fact that it has not yet been 
wholly emancipated from its influence. But it forms 
no part of our religion, and it is only an excrescence to 
be lopped off. But in Mr. Sen's creed asceticism is the 
most prominent element, and high attainments in spirit- 
ual knowledge and piety are unattainable excepting 
through the path of mortification and penance pointed 
out by it. In this respect, therefore, his system and 
Christianity are at war with each other. 

We have, we think, succeeded in demonstrating that 
there is a gulf impassable between the creed of the 
New Dispensation and our holy religion, and that noth- 
ing short of morbid sentimentalism can induce a person 
to represent its author as a champion of Christianity. 


Mr. Sen's religion cannot be characterized by a better 
word than one of his own invention. It is a piece of 
" sacred jugglery," fitted to deceive superficial think- 
ers, but not those whose views of religion are based on 
a deep insight into the necessities, longings, and yearn- 
ings of the human soul. That he believed that it was 
destined to supersede the religions of the world, and be 
universal in its influence and paramount in its sway is 
certain, and may "be advanced as an additional proof of 
his fanaticism. But that this belief is shared in by 
men, who, like Mr. Protap Chunder Mazoomdar and 
Mr. Kisto Behari Sen, his brother, have calmer minds 
and feelings more controllable, would be an inexpli- 
cable phenomenon, if the existence of sincere Comtists 
and Mormons did not convince us of the possibility of 
human minds being victimized by any theory, however 
wild and ludicrous ! 



The Sadharan Brahmo Somaj may be looked upon 
both as a revival of genuine Brahmoism and as a pro- 
test against the errors with which it is interlarded by 
the champions of the ISTew Dispensation. It seems to 
have had in the elaboration of its creed and constitu- 
tion the double purpose of resuscitating the Brahmo 
religion as it stood when, freed from the fetters of 
primitive pantheism, it proclaimed the supremacy of 
reason in matters of faith and religious consciousness, 
and of declaring a war against the innovations in doc- 
trine and practice grafted upon it by Mr. Sen. And 
in all that it has done since the beginning of its corpo- 
rate life about four }^ears ago, it seems to have been 
influenced by this twofold motive. 

This fact it will be our business to set forth by a 
reference to (1) its Creed, (2) its Constitution, and (3) its 
Practical Achievements. But before we do so we must 
present a brief sketch of its very short history. 

Its origin is to be traced, as has already been shown, 
to the zeal and exertions of the intelligent party the 
members of which protested against the innovations 
ushered in by Mr. Sen and his missionaries. By meas- 
ures more or less violent they extorted a series of con- 
cessions from their opponents ; but when in the case of 
the Kuch Behar marriage all reconciliation was impos- 
sible, they separated in a body, held a meeting, and 


formally deposed the minister, Mr. Sen. They then 
endeavored to take possession of the Brahmo Temple as 
the property of the Somaj they represented ; but Mr. 
Sen, as the sole trustee, had the sinews of war in his 
hands, and they were foiled. They then held a public 
meeting and formally organized the New Somaj. This 
was done on the loth of May, 1878. 

They then began the work of recasting with un- 
wonted enthusiasm. Within an incredibly short time 
a thorough revolution was effected in almost every 
feature of its social life. The creed was recast, the 
constitution was recast, and the varied branches of 
practical work were recast. Extraordinary sacrifices 
were made, donations and subscriptions were secured, 
and a new Temple or Prayer Hall fitted to seat about 
a thousand persons was erected. This temple was con- 
secrated within less than three years after the disrup- 
tion, and the following *' declaration" was read on the 
grand occasion of its formal dedication : 

" This day, the 10th day of March, 1287, according to the Bengalee 
era, and the 22d of January, 1881, according to the Christian era, in 
the fifty-first year of the Brahmo Somaj, we dedicate this hall to the 
worship of the one true God. From this day its doors shall be open 
to all classes of people without distinction of caste or social position. 
Men or women, old or young, wise or ignorant, rich or poor, all 
classes will meet here as brethren to worship Him who is the 
Author of our salvation. Excepting this most Holy Being, no created 
being or thing shall be worshipped here ; nor shall divine honors be 
paid to any man or woman as God, or equal to God, or an incarnation 
of God, or as specially appointed by God. It shall be ever borne in 
mind in this hall that the great mission of Brahmoism is to promote 
spiritual freedom among men and to enable them to establish direct 
relationship with God, and the sermons, discourses, and prayers of 
this place shall be so moulded as to help that spirit. It shall ever 
be its aim and endeavor to enable all who hunger after righteousness 
to know God, who is life of our life, and to worship Him direct. 

" The catholicity of Brahmoism shall also be preserved here. No 


book or man shall ever be acknowledged as. infallible and the only 
way of salvation ; but nevertheless due respect shall be paid to all 
scriptures and the good and great of all ages and all countries. In 
the sermons, discourses, and prayers used in this hall, no scripture, 
or sect, or founder of a sect shall ever be ridiculed, reviled, or spoken 
of contemptuously. With due respect untruth shall be exposed, and 
truth vindicated. No man or class of men shall be here regarded as 
the elect or favorite of God, and the rest of mankind as lost to that 
favor. Anything calculated to compromise this catholic spirit shall 
never be countenanced. 

" The spirituality of our doctrine shall be carefully maintained. 
Flowers, spices, burnt offerings, candles, and other material accom- 
paniments of worship shall never be used, and care shall be taken to 
avoid everything tending to reduce religion to mere parade and life- 
less forms. It shall be the object of all our preachings and discourses 
in this place to teach men and women to love God, to seek piety, to 
hate sin, to grow in devotion and spirituality, to promote purity 
among men and women, to uproot all social evils, and to encourage 
virtuous deeds. Anything that will directly or indirectly encourage 
idolatry, engender superstition, rob spiritual freedom, lower con- 
science, or corrupt morals, shall never be countenanced. May this 
hall ever remain a refuge and resting-place for all the weary 
sojourners of this world ! May the sinner find consolation and hope 
in this hall ; may the weak be strengthened, and may all who hunger 
and thirst find food and drink for their souls ! "With this hope and 
prayer we dedicate this hall in the name of the one true God. May 
He help and guide us ! Amen." 

The document is admirable, barring one gross verbal 
inaccuracy which represents God as a " created Being ;" 
and it embodies the spirit of the Sadharan Brahmo 
Somaj, in. conjunction with its double purpose of revival 
and protest. The worship of one true God is revived, 
together with the spirituality, catholicity, and tolerance 
of Brahmoism ; but a firm and bold protest is put 
upon record against the innovations of the once pro- 
gressive, but now retrogressive party. The infalli- 
bility of a book or a prophet is emphatically denied, 
and all tendency to man- worship, such as led to extrav- 
agances and superstitions in the Somaj, is discouraged 


and browbeaten. The spirit of ritualism, which is an 
important element of the New Dispensation, and which 
manifests itself in sensational demonstrations, receives 
in the- document the potent check it deserves ; while 
spiritual freedom, compromised so sadly -in Mr. Sen's 
church, is reasserted with due emphasis. This docu- 
ment, therefore, offers a clue to or rather embodies the 
genius and tendency of the new movement. 

Let us in the first place give the reader an insight 
into the Creed of the Sadharan Brahmo Somaj. It 
consists of four general principles and twenty -three 
articles of faith. The general principles are these : 

(1) Belief in the existence of an infinite Creator. 

(2) Belief in the immortality of the soul. 

(3) Belief in the duty and necessity of spiritual wor- 
ship of God. 

(4) Disbelief in any infallible book or man, as the 
means of salvation. 

These general principles jDresent a reaffirmation of 
the general creed upheld by Mr. Sen himself before the 
unfettered development of his peculiar notions, and a 
protest against these. God, Duty, and Immortality — 
these are the constituent elements of the creed preached 
in America by Theodore Parker and in India and Eng- 
land by his disciple Mr. Sen. And these are one and 
all embodied in this statement of general principles. 
But Babu Keshub Chunder Sen has, of late especially, 
pointed to himself as an infallible medium of communi- 
cation between heaven and earth, and represented doc- 
uments written by him as proclamations issued by God 
Himself. He has, in short, assumed the position of an 
infallible book and man ; and the last of these princi- 
ples is levelled against such extravagant pretensions on 
his part. Even in its enunciation of general principles 


the Sadharan party has been guided by its double pur- 
pose of revival and protest. 

The Articles of Faith may also be divided into two 
classes — those which embody a revival of genuine 
Brahmoism, and those which lift up a protest against 
the innovations so often referred to. The first class 
give some insight into the glorious attributes of God, 
into the nature of the worship and obedience due to 
Him, into the constitution and destiny of man, into the 
nature of sin, salvation, and regeneration, and into the 
life of reward or punishment ahead of human beings 
living in this world. The Ninth Article presents a 
definition of sin better than any that have emanated 
from Brahmoism : " By sin we understand the con- 
scious and wilful commission or indulgence of a deed, 
thought, or desire which leads the soul away from the 
Divine Will, and also the conscious and wilful omission 
of any deed, thought, or desire which leads toward the 
Divine Will." This is certainly precise and philo- 
sophical language, not merely one of those rhapsodies 
in which Mr. Sen is so decidedly prone to indulge, but 
the definition suggests a question of great importance, 
viz. , what is the Divine Will ? 

To this question an answer, philosophical in diction 
and on the whole accurate in thought, is given in the 
following article: "By Divine Will we understand 
that universal, eternal, and constant action of the 
Divine Spirit which, under given conditions, is mani- 
fested in different shapes and proportions, through our 
reason, conscience, affections, and will. When it 
breathes through reason it is wisdom , enabling us to 
perceive the true ; when flowing through the con- 
science it is virtue, giving a sense and knowledge of the 
right ; when operating through the affections it is love, 


leading us to seek the good of others ; and when influ- 
encing the will it is courage, giving firmness to stand 
upon duty. The conditions of the action of this will 
axe love and self -surrender. ..." 

Now we may accept this phraseology and the senti- 
ment or theory couched in it. But all difficulty is not 
removed. The question stares us in the face — how are 
the conditions to be realized in us sinful beings ? How 
is the dominant selfishness of our hearts to be extin- 
guished ? How is the spirit of love and self -surrender 
to be generated and matured in a heart depraved to the 
very core ? The history of the world in general, and 
of individual souls in particular, proves to a demonstra- 
tion the unfittedness of the revelation of God embodied 
in nature and human consciousness to effect the revolu- 
tion needed in the human heart. A revelation higher 
than that is a desideratum ; and as Brahmoism in its 
Protean phases cannot supply the want, all attempt on 
its part to re-establish the harmony between the Divine 
Will and the stubborn and perverse will of man must 
end in egregious failure. 

But will not repentance and prayer solve the diffi- 
culty ? The Twelfth Article runs thus : "We believe 
that sincere repentance and earnest prayer are the 
means of his (man's) reconciliation with the Father. 
Repentance is the awakening of love, faith is the matu- 
rity thereof, and regeneration is the result. ' ' To pro- 
duce genuine repentance and lead to earnest, believing 
prayer, a revelation of God's love, more overpowering 
than that which Brahmoism can point to, is needed. 
The conditions cannot be realized by Brahmoism ; and 
all its talk of salvation and regeneration is like the 
well-known saying of Archimedes, that if he could find 
a place to fix his lever on he could raise the world. 


Our Sadharan Brahmo friends have been lamentably 
deficient in their philosophical insight into the dire con- 
sequences of sin. They emphatically oppose the doc- 
trine of original sin, though even the sceptical scientists 
of the day have been led by their own line of investiga- 
tion, and in spite of their concealed or open antagonism 
to Christianity, to recognize it as a fact of science, and 
to rear their theories of evolution on it as a stable 
basis. But they carry their temerity up to the highest 
pitch of development when they represent the world as 
in a natural condition. Their Sixteenth Article runs 
thus : " We do not look upon the world as a delusion, 
like the pantheist, nor as a place of bondage, like the 
believer in transmigration, nor as the heritage of fallen 
humanity and consequently an abode of sin and suffer- 
ing, like the orthodox Christian ; but we believe that the 
world is a nursery for the soul, beautifully adapted for 
its growth and development, and for the exercise and 
culture of its moral and spiritual powers during the first 
stage of its existence, and that all the spiritual and 
moral ties that bind man to his family and to his kind 
are sacred and divinely ordained." 

In this statement we see embodied the beautiful but 
thoroughly groundless theory of the optimists. Sin is 
virtue in the making, and suffering is essential to prog- 
ress. The incalculable amount of sin and suffering we 
see in the world is one of the natural conditions of its 
existence and progress ; and it is absurd to represent 
it, as the Bible does, as an unnatural phenomenon real- 
ized by the perverse will of man, in contravention of 
the Divine Will, though in accordance with the Divine 
Decrees, or God's plan of administration. But optim- 
ism is based on the paradox that obedience proceeds 
from disobedience, virtue from vice, light from dark- 


ness, death from life ! No proof of human degradation 
is stronger than the fact that man would sooner swallow 
this monstrous conclusion than admit the inherent 
malignity of sin and the perniciousness of its results, 
not the less disastrous and direful because overruled for 
good by grace divine. Brahmoism and all the isms of 
the world would vanish into thin air if adequate views 
of the intense blackness of sin and of the inflexibility 
of the antagonism which subsists between it and the 
intense holiness of God could be naturalized in the 

Let us now advert to the second class of the articles 
in question — viz., those which lift up a vigorous protest 
against the innovations associated with the New Dis- 
pensation. The Twenty-first Article is a protest 
against Mr. Sen's claim to infallibility, put forth cau- 
tiously by him, but most unequivocally by his follow- 
ers : " We do not believe in any divinely revealed 
book, nor in any infallible guide or pope ; but we 
regard all perceptions of the really true, good, and holy 
in any book or man as revelations of God, and reveren- 
tially bow before them. " The Twentieth Article sets 
forth the necessity of democracy in the Brahmo Church 
as contradistinguished from the autocracy of the New 
Dispensation : " In accordance with the above spirit, 
we look upon the Church as essentially a family of 
brothers and sisters, and as such a commonwealth in 
the strictest sense of the term ; where the abuse or 
misappropriation of power by one or a few is unfair, 
ungodly, and condemnable. ' ' 

The utility of this last declaration may be seen when 
it is placed in juxtaposition with the following dictum 
of the Sunday Mirror (November 13, 1881) : " Relig- 
ious leaders are expected to speak with authority — an 

176 BRAHM0IS3I. 

authority received from heaven. The very ring of 
earnestness and sincerity which characterizes their 
utterances proves that the voice with which they speak 
is not theirs. It follows, therefore, that ignorance of 
God gives no title to vote ; and such ignorance is the 
distinguishing trait of the majority of a community. 
To talk of democracy in matters transcendental is to 
attain the height of the ludicrous. Our opinion is that 
a church should be eminently aristocratic and not dem- 
ocratic. We use the word ' aristocratic ' in its literal 
sense, meaning the best." The " ring" of the passage 
is Carlylish : the majority of mankind are brutes, and 
must be ruled despotically by the few, who are Princes 
of Men. The difference lies in the literal sense in 
which the word " aristocratic" is used. The question, 
however, arises, Who is to separate the good from the 
bad ? The party looked upon as the good in the 
Church of the K"ew Dispensation are looked upon as the 
bad by the champions of the Sadharan Somaj, and vice 
versa ! 

The tendency of Mr. Sen's utterances to pantheism 
is so obvious, in spite of his occasional and unequivocal 
protest against it, that the creed of the Sadharan Somaj 
would be incomplete as a counterpoise if it did not 
embody a declaration against it. Again, his parade of 
asceticism needs a counter-demonstration ; and we 
have both these forms of error denounced in more than 
one of these articles. It is enough to quote Article 
Fifth : ' ' We believe that the way to this salvation is 
not through pantheism, which regards sin and misery 
as delusions, nor through asceticism, which aspires to 
uproot the desires and subjugate the body, but through 
love, which teaches the soul to seek the will of the 
Father as the highest good. It does not snatch the 


soul away from temptations, nor violently uproot the 
desires, but places it above them and beyond them by 
making them matters of indifference to its purpose or 

And lastly, Mr. Sen seems to uphold the popular 
belief in a material heaven and a material hell, or a 
heaven and hell not only as states of the mind, but as 
places of abode. We say seems deliberately, as pas- 
sages may be culled from his notoriously incoherent, 
rhapsodical deliverances fitted to uphold the very 
opposite conclusion. In his lecture on " Our Faith and 
Our Experiences" he points most emphatically to a 
home in the next world ' c as the most glittering of the 
prizes in reserve for the believer." " In natural the- 
ology, in pure theism, there can be no divinity without 
a future world, no immortality without a divinity. 
The intuitive eye raised above beholds God ; directed 
forward, it sees its future home in the next world. A 
Father without a home, a home without a father — that 
is an anomaly against which nature rebels." There is 
a protest against this doctrine in the creed of the Sad- 
haran Brahmo Somaj, and it is embodied in Article 
Seventh : " But we do not imagine any material 
Heaven or Hell. There may be worlds or spheres, 
where human souls find themselves placed during the 
several stages of their progress and development after 
death, but Heaven and Hell with us are not places but 
states. By heaven we mean the joy consequent upon 
knowing and loving the Father, and upon being 
allowed to hold unclouded intercourse with Him — this 
being the highest reward of virtue ; and by hell we 
mean that miserable state where the soul is made un- 
worthy of intercourse with God and finds delight in un- 
worthiness — which also is the worst punishment of sin, " 


We do not know whether or how far our Brahmo 
friends are influenced by certain misrepresentations 
afloat relative to the Christian ideas of heaven and hell. 
We Christians are sometimes represented as being 
exclusively materialistic in our views of the future state 
of rewards and punishments, in which mankind instinc- 
tively believe ; heaven and hell are to us places, and 
nothing more — places of corporeal enjoyment and cor- 
poreal torment. But such representation is grossly 
when ignorantly, and maliciously when knowingly, 
made. Our ideas are both materialistic and spiritual- 
istic. Heaven and hell are, according to our belief, 
both places and states. We believe that the conditions 
of our present life, associated as it is inseparably with 
bodily infirmities and the punitive element in the econ- 
omies of nature and dispensations of Providence so 
prominently brought to our notice, must be essentially 
altered ere all obstacles to our perfect development and 
perfect enjoyment can possibly be removed. A world 
therefore free from the disastrous consequences of sin 
noticeable in this, or this world thoroughly liberated 
from these consequences, can alone be a fit abode for 
blessed souls prepared for the fulness of hallowed 
activity and ethereal f elicity of which they are capable. 
Hence the idea of a material heaven, or a world with 
material and moral conditions different from those notice- 
able in this world ! For the same or a similar reason, a 
material hell, or a place of punishment where suffering is 
not mitigated by the innumerable vestiges of benevo- 
lence which are among the characteristic elements of the 
present economy, or of the economy of this world, is 
also needed to punish souls unalterably determined to 
turn a deaf ear to all exhortations to repentance and 
faith, as well as to prevent them from doing further 


mischief. But Christianity maintains that a man must 
be heaven before he is sent to heaven, or be hell before 
he is sent to hell. Heaven and hell are, according to 
its teachings, both states and places. 

1. Now let us turn to the Constitution of the Sacl- 
haran Brahmo Somaj. The Somaj is a democracy in 
the proper sense of the term, and its great source of 
power is the General Meeting of its members, and rep- 
resentatives and delegates from the Somajes affiliated 
to it, held annually, " and oftener if there be need." 
The business of this Imperial Assembly is both legisla- 
tive and executive, like that of the General Conference 
of the Methodists. As a legislative body it hears and 
approves the annual report of the Somaj, modifies 
existing laws or frames new rules when necessary, and 
discusses questions fitted to promote the welfare of the 
Church. As an executive assembly it elects a General 
Committee of forty members, to meet every quarter 
and conduct the general business of the Church. To 
secure despatch and efficiency in the conduct of business 
this somewhat huge body delegates its power to a small 
Executive Committee of a dozen members, chosen by it 
annually, reserving to itself the power of supervision, 
which it exercises through its quarterly meetings. The 
Executive Committee is assisted by a body of office- 
bearers, four in number, elected annually by the Gen- 
eral Meeting of the members and delegates. It is not 
necessary to repeat that this constitution is a standing 
protest against the autocracy embodied in Mr. Sen's 
organization. Mr. Sen has a ' ' Missionary Conference, ' ' 
but it is somewhat like the ministry of an irresponsible 
despot who appoints its members, retains them so long 
as they are found obsequious and compliant, but casts 
them adrift the moment they are found guilty of cher- 


ishing an independent thought. Mr. Sen's missionaries 
are on all questions, important or non-important, 
brought up "to " the level" of Mr. Sen's thought by 
some influence unknown to the outside world. Mr. 
Sastri's remarks on the organization of his Somaj are 
both accurate and pungent : " However, let that pass ; 
the reader cannot have any doubt now that the New 
Dispensation is not a constitutional church properly so 
called. The whole thing rests • upon the ' inspired 
authority ' of one man. Perhaps I will be doing 
injustice if I do not notice Mr. Sen's ' Missionary Con- 
ference.' It is a self -elected council, which is said to 
deliberate on Church matters — and many and pro- 
longed are its discussions carried on, I am told ; but 
there is this peculiarity about it, that all voices at last 
find an easy solution in one ' inspired ' voice — for not a 
single voice of dissent has been up to this time recorded 
against any of Mr. Sen's proceedings. So I leave the 
reader to ponder over this mockery of a constitutional 
council. ' ' 

The conditions to eligibility to membership are four. 
Let them be presented in Mr. Sastri's own words : 
" First, the applicant for membership must be above 
eighteen years of age ; secondly, he must agree to sign 
the covenant of the Somaj containing the four princi- 
ples mentioned before ; thirdly, his private character 
must be pure and moral, for breach of morality in 
private life makes a member liable to forfeiture of 
membership ; fourthly, he must agree to pay at least 
eight annas in the year toward carrying on the work 
of the Somaj. " It is worthy of notice that a public 
renunciation of caste or badges of idolatry is not made 
a condition of membership, and therefore the Sadharan 
Brahmos, as well as those under the banner of Mr. 


Sen's Somaj, are divided into two classes— viz., Anus- 
thanic, or those who have discarded caste and idola- 
trous badges, and those who have not done so. The 
number of the former is very small indeed, in connec- 
tion either with this or with the once Progressive but 
now Retrogressive movement — so small that at Lahore, 
where the Brahmos have a temple of their own and 
varied organizations, there was, when the writer visited 
it, only one Anusthanic Brahmo. 

The Anusthanic Brahmos have one great privilege 
denied to those who lack the moral courage they have 
shown in discarding caste. The members of the 
Executive Committee, office-bearers, ministers, and 
missionaries must be chosen only from their ranks. 
The method in which missionaries are appointed and 
supported is worthy of commendation. The candidate 
for the post of a missionary has to apply formally to 
the Executive Committee, who, if he does not appear 
properly qualified, transfer him to the charge of a 
committee called the Missionary Committee. By the 
members of this committee the books he has to study 
are prescribed, the lectures he has to attend are got 
up, the examinations he has to pass are held, and his 
conduct and progress during what may be called his 
academic life are watched. When he is furnished with 
a pass certificate by them, he has to go out and preach 
for one whole year as a probationer ; and ultimately, 
when he has proved his ability both in the school of 
drilling and in the field of action, his name is published 
for two months as that of an applicant for missionary 
work, and members of the Somaj are requested to state 
if they have any serious objections to his appointment. 
When this season of concluding trial is over, " a day is 
appointed when special divine service is held, and he is 


duly ordained. " Mr. Sastri, from whom all our infor- 
mation regarding the Sadharan Somaj is derived, does 
not state whether this is done by the solemn imposition 
of hands, or whether some other mode of ordination is 
resorted to. He assures us, however, that " the plan 
sketched out in the above account is yet in a state of 
design, for the first missionaries being men of long- 
standing reputation, no such process was felt necessary 
in their case. ' ' 

The missionaries are not salaried men in the proper 
sense of the term, but they have all their wants sup- 
plied by the Executive Committee, who look after their 
families when they are absent on duty, sanction allow- 
ances, according to an estimate made in each individual 
case of the probable cost of maintenance, and meet 
emergencies arising from " disease, accident, or death" 
by special grants. On the whole, missionaries are 
maintained " in comfort" in or out of the metropolis ; 
and Fakirism, or the system which sends missionaries 
out begging, and which is ostensibly but not really in 
vogue in the Progressive Somaj, is held at a discount. 

3. It is time for us to advert to the development of 
the practical work of the Somaj. Its "mission" is 
grand, and is unfolded as follows : 

" First, To preach and propagate the idea of a personal God — the 
Parama Purush, as in Sanscrit He is called — of a God who loves 
righteousness and hates sin. 

" Secondly, To preach and propagate, and also to teach by personal 
example, the idea of true spiritual worship, consisting of communion 
and prayer, as distinguished from the outward observance of idola- 
trous rites ; which idea if once properly grasped will inevitably give 
rise to spiritual struggles. 

" Thirdly, To divest conceptions of piety of the errors of sentimen- 
talise and mysticism on the one hand, and asceticism and ritualism 
on the other, and thereby to direct the religious enthusiasm of the 


people to channels of practical usefulness, to fields of active philan- 
thropy, and to the elevation of individual and social life. 

il Fourthly, To seek and establish the grand but often forgotten 
truth of the brotherhood of man, by the overthrow of caste and 
every other form of tyranny of class over class ; the elevation and 
emancipation of woman being an important step in this direction. 

" Fifthly, To promote freedom of conscience, to kindle the sense of 
individual independence ; thereby sowing the seeds of domestic, so- 
cial, political, and spiritual liberty. 

" Sixthly, To communicate to the body of the people, through the 
means of individual lives, a living and conquering moral energy, 
born of faith and earnest work, which will impart strength and vigor 
to the exhausted moral and spiritual nerves of the race, and will help 
them to be morally and spiritually regenerated. " 

It is scarcely necessary to pause here and notice that 
the mission of the Sadharan Somaj is a practical, as its 
creed is a theoretical, protest against the prominent 
errors of Mr. Sen's Somaj. Mysticism and pantheism 
are certainly imparting their color, if not their vital 
substance, to the creed of the Progressive Somaj, and 
its recent proceedings are eminently fitted to rivet the 
chains under which the country has been groaning for 
ages untold. A protest against these aberrations of 
thought followed by a practical warfare against them 
is a felt want, and the Sadharan Somaj bids fair to 
supply it, if it be not within a short time led astray by 
aberrations thought even more reprehensible. Again, 
an attempt to uphold independence of thought and 
assert the rights of reason seems peremptorily demanded 
by the tendency of the Progressive Somaj to place the 
collective will of a community under the guidance of 
one imperious will. 

Let us now turn to what the Sadharan Somaj has 
done to carry out its splendid programme. It has, as 
we have already intimated, had a commodious hall 
erected and consecrated for regular worship, and for 


giving effect to what may be called both ordinary and 
extraordinary methods of inculcating religious truth , 
nurturing religious life, and spreading the blessings of 
religious growth. The foundation of this hall was laid 
within eight months after the schism, and it was 
formally consecrated in January, 1881. During the 
brief interval the Sadharan Brahmos raised about 
30,000 rupees, a very large sum considering their cir- 
cumstances, for the purpose of erecting this hall and 
meeting other expenses. 

It has established a library in Calcutta for the diffu- 
sion of useful knowledge in general, and religious 
knowledge in particular. This library has a good 
assortment of books, many of which seem to have been 
generously presented to it by European and native 
gentlemen, who, though not Brahmos in any sense of 
the term, look upon the movement as worthy of 
encouragement. The library is in working order, and 
the number of those who avail themselves of it is on 
the increase. 

It has, moreover, organized a benevolent association 
called the Hita-Sadhini-Sobha, with the avowed objects 
of aiding indigent pupils and raising the working 
classes. The association is in an embryonic state, but 
yet its members have opened a night-school for the 
working classes, have visited not a few of the homes of 
poverty in the metropolis, and have helped a small 
number of poor students. 

It has been instrumental in communicating an extra- 
ordinary impetus to the cause of female education. 
Following in the wake of some philanthropic mission- 
aries, they have had a boarding-school organized in 
connection with the Government Girl School in Cal- 
cutta, and a girl belonging to their community having 


passed the F.A. examination is now preparing herself 
for the B.A. degree, along with the Christian girl 
who had the honor of being the first to pass the 
Entrance Examination, or of having by her success the 
doors of the University Examinations thrown open for 
female candidates. 

It has, moreover, organized an Association of Ladies, 
" with a view to draw the ladies gradually into society, 
and to teach them to sympathize with topics of general 
and national interest. Evening parties and social 
gatherings are frequently held under the auspices of 
this association, where both the sexes freely meet — a 
thing quite unknown in the present state of Hindu 
society — but the want of which, I am strongly of opin- 
ion, is one of the principal causes, if not the cause, of 
the widespread social impurity which has become a 
stigma to our national life. " 

It has opened a college in the city of Calcutta which 
takes rank among its first-class educational institutions. 
Let us give its history in Mr. Sastri's words : 

" It was started in the beginning of the year 1873 by Mr. A. M. 
Bose, lately the president of the Sadharan Brahmo Somaj, and a few 
other leading members. It was formerly a higher class English 
school, but has within the period of two years risen into a college 
for training rip boys for the higher examinations of the university. 
This educational institution has served to keep together a number 
of Brahmo teachers, all of whom are earnest members of the Brahmo 
Somaj, and most of whom are zealous co-workers in its cause. It also 
promises to give us a band of earnest-minded young men trained up 
to habits of honesty and piety." 

Mr. Sastri concludes his thick pamphlet with an 
" appeal," from which we shall present an extract 
fitted to set forth the growing popularity of the Sad- 
haran Somaj, and the growing unpopularity of that 
from which its champions seceded about four years 

186 BRAKMOIStf. 

ago : " In conclusion, I have to appeal to our friends of 
the ~New Dispensation for treating us with greater for- 
bearance, for giving up the cruel practice of calling us 
'infidels,' ' sceptics,' 'rationalists,' and far worse 
names, and for shunning the far more painful tactics of 
stabbing us in the dark. Certainly the fault is not 
ours if they find themselves deserted and forsaken, and 
feel their power crumbling away ; for that seems to be 
the inevitable fate which is sure to overtake all enemies 
of human freedom in these days of enlightenment and 
progress. Let them see that they have embraced 
error, and consequently are spurned by truth. They 
know it well, and let me confess it candidly, we have 
as yet very little to attract people to our fold. If then 
they find our cause prospering and gaining ground, it is 
not because of any virtue or excellence in us, but owing 
to the soundness of the principles we profess. ' ' 

It is our decided opinion that, looked at from what 
may be called the Brahmo point of view, the principles 
of the Saclharan Brahmo Somaj are much more rational 
and defensible than those of the party against which it 
is a standing and a very successful protest. Mr. Sen's 
creed is a heap of contradiction. There is no such 
thing as paper revelation, and yet not only are truths 
preached in the name of God, but proclamations issued 
with the signature, or what is represented as the signa- 
ture, of God affixed to them ; while dialogues said to 
have been held between God and Mr. Sen's disciples 
are reported verbatim/ There is no mediation, and 
yet important religious truths invariably reach the 
Somaj through a person who, though unable to muster 
up courage to assume publicly the dignity and functions 
of a prophet, calls himself " a singular man," and rep- 
resents himself as commissioned to usher in a dispensa- 


tion higher than those brought in by Moses or Christ ! 
God is personal, and yet impersonal ; men are vile, and 
yet furnished with bright portions of the divine sub- 
stance ; Christ is a historical character, and yet nothing 
more than a series of ideas ; worship spiritual, and yet 
deriving its merit from a series of sensational demon- 
strations ; the varied religions of the world true, and 
yet false ! Such are the oddities and monstrosities to 
which Mr. Sen's utterances may legitimately be 
reduced ! Compared with this heap of contradiction, 
the creed of the Sadharan Somaj is rationality itself. 

Mr. Sen's practices, moreover, are of a piece with his 
theories. One day Mr. Sen goes through the farce of 
drinking the water in which the feet of his missionaries 
are washed, and the very next day he sees persons 
prostrating themselves before him and calling him their 
Lord and Master with tacit approbation. One day he 
goes out in the garb of a mendicant with a wallet in 
his hand, and the next day he celebrates his son's mar- 
riage with a pomp of which the most pretentious of 
swells would be proud. One day he lives upon the 
savory food sent to him as alms by one of his devotees, 
and the very next he entertains half the respectable 
people of Calcutta in -a style in every respect worthy of 
the very respectable family to which he belongs. 
Compared with these obviously meaningless proceed- 
ings, those of the Sadharan Somaj are sense itself. 

Let us add that the view of Christ maintained by the 
Sadharan Somaj is decidedly lower and therefore less 
irrational than that presented in Mr. Sen's utterances. 
Mr. Sen is guilty of giving publicity to a gross calumny 
when he represents its champions as ready to call Christ 
"a cut-throat ;" but he would have been justified in 
representing them as holding up a picture of by no 


means unalloyed perfection. The view they present is 
the lower of the two views presented in the writings of 
Theodore Parker. Christ was a very good man, but 
He was not thoroughly sinless, and His character was 
marred by certain very gross errors of the head. He 
certainly believed in His Messiahship, and too precipi- 
tately assumed the dignity and functions associated 
with it. He believed in the existence of spirits, both 
good and evil, and their dominance over the world, and 
He believed in His Second Coming. Serious errors of 
judgment, breeding a little pride and self -exaltation, 
marred a character which otherwise would have been a 
model of perfection. Now this view is more rational 
than that of persons who, while denying His Divinity, 
represent Him as perfectly sinless, or as a perfect model 
of virtue. The Christ to whom Mr. Sen's homage is 
paid is ideal, not the historical Christ of the Gospels? 
as we have shown. But he would speak of the his- 
torical Christ in terms of praise adopted by those who, 
in denying His Divinity and representing Him as a 
perfect model of virtue in one and the same breath, 
plunge themselves into an inconsistency of the most 
glaring nature. 

Barring its vigorous protest against the odd innova- 
tions of the New Dispensationists, the great achieve- 
ment of the Sadharan Somaj is the resuscitation of the 
simple creed of Brahmoism — the creed adopted by the 
Adi Somaj after it had been liberated from the tram- 
mels of pantheism, and preached by Babu Keshub 
Chunder Sen before he had been demoralized by ful- 
some adulation. This creed may be represented as 
correct as far as it goes ; but its insufficiency is as 
obvious as its accuracy is apparent. It fails to commu- 
nicate to us such knowledge of God as is calculated to 


effectively discourage sin and encourage truth, and it 
fails to point to us God's appointed remedy for sin. 

Man in his present state of corruption cannot do two 
things— separate himself either from his sins or from 
God. The love of sin, generated by the law of heredity 
and invigorated by long-continued indulgence, is in him 
too strong to be extinguished, and he lives in sin, un- 
willing and unable to save himself from its bondage. 
The sublime instinct in him which draws him toward 
God is equally irrepressible, being, like his love of sin, 
original and innate. He therefore looks for a reli- 
gion which is fitted to gratify at one and the same 
time his sinful propensities as well as his aspirations 
after the infinite. Xor can he be delivered from the 
meshes of this error except by such views of divine 
holiness and mercy as are calculated to beget at one 
and the same time a dread of sin and a trust in God. 
The simple creed of the Brahmo Somaj does not present 
such views of God, and cannot therefore detach man 
from his sins or save him from the fatal mistake of 
trying to effect a reconciliation between God and sin. 
It is not enough to dwell upon the unity of God, His 
Fatherhood, His holiness, forbearance, and love. It is 
not enough to exhibit the glorious attributes of God in 
a series of syllogisms, propositions, oracular statements, 
or ambiguous assertions. Eight knowledge about God 
must be embodied in a series of tangible facts ere it can 
possibly be^an effective warning against sin and a 
powerful attraction to Him. And the great beauty of 
Christianity is that it exhibits God, not in a series of 
abstract propositions, not in poetry and romance, but 
in a series of palpable and eloquent facts. It presents 
a history of God's dealings with fallen man, and in 
each link of this chain of narrative, extending over ages, 

190 BRAmioisai. 

we see the intense holiness of Gocl coupled with His 
infinite mercy. We stand aghast before the frightful 
punishments inflicted upon the degenerate Canaanitish 
races, upon the Jews themselves, and upon their 
oppressors, as before the awful calamities, such as 
cyclones, famines, and pestilences, occurring under our 
own eyes ! "We do not pretend to be able to explain 
them. But in one and all of them we see God's hatred 
of sin and His determination to wipe it out at any 
cost. But hanging over the clouds and darkness sur- 
rounding these catastrophes we see the rainbow of 
divine mercy in bright dispensations of Providence, in 
glorious promises, as well as in those pathetic declara- 
tions which melt the hardest heart and bring tears out 
of the driest eye. In the series of revelations and 
providential dispensations which culminated in Christ, 
we see embodied that knowledge of God which is not 
presented by the religions of the world, and without 
which all attempts to call men away from sin back to 
piety and godliness must needs fail. 

Again, Christianity sets forth the intense holiness of 
God and His infinite love embodied, not merely in a 
series of telling facts, but in a mysterious but tangible 
Personality. Christ is the brightness of God's glory 
and the express image of His Person. While studying 
His life we stand aghast before the dreadful denuncia- 
tions He hurled against the Scribes and Pharisees, 
and we find it hard at first sight to reconcile them to 
the even tenor of His life. But in these we see break- 
ing out in another form that intense hatred of sin 
which in Old Testament times was seen in frightful 
calamities and physical plagues ; while in the milder 
aspects of Christ's character and career we see that 
love of God which endureth forever. Besides, the in- 


tense holiness of God and His boundless lore are both 
brought into the greatest prominence in the sacrificial 
death of Christ. Who can contemplate that death 
and think it possible to effect a reconciliation between 
sin and godliness ? Who can properly consider it 
without being instinctively led to forsake sin and flee 
to the mercy-seat for complete salvation from its pun- 
ishment and power ? 

Eor does the simple creed of Brahmoism give us 
adequate and reliable knowledge of what we, as sin- 
ners, ought to do to obtain mercy to pardon and grace 
to help us in every time of need. It is not enough to 
repeat the decalogue, and point it out as the common 
heritage of all the religions of the world. The deca- 
logue we have trampled under our feet, its laws we 
have transgressed times without number and in the 
most presumptuous manner conceivable, and the por- 
tion we have in it is only its threatened punishment. 
The great question we have to settle is, How is sinful 
man to be reconciled to God ? Human replies to this 
all-important question cannot satisfy us. The instinct 
of humanity has always led it to look up to heaven for 
God's own solution of this perplexing problem. A 
great writer in a recently published book has brought 
forward three classes of what may be called moral 
phenomena as proofs of man's determination to be 
guided especially in religious matters by God Himself, 
not by human theories and speculations. The omens, 
divinations, and oracles to which man has been led in- 
stinctively to resort whenever troubled by perplexing 
questions or faced by appalling difficulties, are proofs 
of his irresistible tendency to look up to heaven for 
teaching and guidance. This tendency, moreover, is 
exhibited in the revelations he has believed in, and the 


varied forms of incarnation to which his homage has 
been paid. And therefore the all-important practical 
question with him is, What is God's solution of the 
great problem we have as sinful creatures to solve — the 
problem of pardon and reconciliation ? Christianity 
embodies this solution, and it therefore is calculated to 
satisfy man. When the Brahmo says, Eepent, and 
look up to the grace of God for pardon and deliverance 
immediately, or not through the medium of an alleged 
atonement, we cannot help making inquiries as to the 
source of this piece of information or this dictum. 
Where have you got this truth ? If you have got it 
from God Himself, prove its divine origin. If not, 
your opinion, dignified though it is in your writings by 
the appellation of intuition, cannot be allowed to guide 
us except when it accords, as it does not in the present 
case, with our own. The Christian preacher says : 
Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou 
shalt be saved, and all thy house. This is not his opin- 
ion, or his intuition, or his primary belief, or one of the 
ultimate principles of faith. This is the Word of God, 
and it rests on the only kind of evidence by which a 
revelation from heaven can be attested. The Christian 
preacher takes you back through a chain of indisput- 
able facts to the time when once and again the silence 
of heaven was broken, and the voice was heard like 
that of thunder : "This is my beloved Son, hear ye 
Him !' ' And after having called your attention to what 
may be called Heaven's unmistakable attestation of 
Christ's mission, the Christian preacher asks you in the 
name of God to hear the Redeemer as in accents of love 
He extends to you and to all mankind the invitation : 
" Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, 
and I will give you rest !" 



The reform inaugurated by Eajah Ram Mohun Roy 
has nearly perished. The system of philosophy he 
revived, with a view to cut out an acceptable religion 
for those whom a superior education had liberated from 
the trammels of prevailing idolatry, has so far deviated 
from its original principles that it may properly be 
said to have ceased to exist. The pamphlets he pub- 
lished from time to time in support of his views can 
with difficulty be exhumed out of the mass of waste 
paper under which they have long remained buried. 
His very name is rarely mentioned but with comments 
such as lead us to the conclusion that though much 
credit was due to the bold spirit which led him to shake 
off the fetters of a religion of which as an enlightened 
man he could not but be ashamed, he was, as a philoso- 
pher and reformer, egregiously mistaken. Nothing is 
so well calculated to set forth the utter fruitlessness of 
those religious reforms, which have for their basis 
other foundation than that which is laid by God Him- 
self, as the complete collapse which has overtaken the 
grand movement he set on foot. 

But while every vestige of Rajah Ram Mohun Roy's 
philosophical achievements has been swept away, the 
devotional hymns he composed have defied the influ- 
ences of malignant stars. These hymns exist, and are 
sung with zest by educated Bengalis of all varieties and 


shades of opinion, from one end of the country to the 
other. Eminent critics are of opinion that, while the 
literary works of Dr. Johnson, called the monarch of 
literature by the wits of the brilliant club of which he 
was the Hon, are likely to be forgotten, his happy say- 
ings and smart repartees, as embodied in his biography 
by Boswell, are destined to immortalize his name. 
Johnson the literary giant, Johnson the poet, the 
moralist, the philosopher, is likely to be thrust into the 
hmbo of forgetfulness ; but Johnson the hero of table- 
talk, with his sallies of wit and flashes of fancy, is sure 
to have an abiding place in the temple of fame. Such 
precisely is likely to be the case with Rajah Ram 
Mohun Roy. Ram Mohun Roy the philosopher has 
long since vanished out of sight, but Ram Mohun Roy 
the hymnologist lives, and will live for years if not 
ages to come, to touch the lyre, to raise the voice of 
song, and to move, if not regulate, devotional feelings. 
There is a feature in these hymns fitted to cause their 
being readily accepted and properly appreciated by the 
educated classes of the population of Bengal. They 
are intensely national. They revive truths which in 
various forms have invariably commanded universal 
respect in the country, which form the basis of popular 
idolatry, and which are deeply imbedded, as it were, 
in the national mind. The Hindu is practically a 
polytheist, but theoretically a pantheist. Though 
buried in idolatry such as slides down in a descending 
scale from the worship of the heavenly bodies to the 
most grovelhng types of fetichism, all his higher 
thoughts and aspirations assume a pantheistic form. 
He quietly and unmurmuringly goes round a circle of 
rites and ceremonies, performs a number of appointed 
ablutions, practises rigid rules of abstinence, and occa- 


sionally goes so far as to lacerate his body by penances 
and mortifications. Bnt these observances can no more 
quiet his conscience and pacify his jarring feelings and 
thoughts than the absolution granted by a Popish 
priest can produce mental tranquillity and repose. But 
the conviction that he is a portion of the Godhead, an 
atom of His infinitely extended and all-embracing 
substance, separated from it by immutable and uncon- 
trollable laws of development, yet destined finally to be 
merged and absorbed in it, cheers and consoles him 
amid the disappointments and mortifications of life. 
To this deep esoteric conviction the hymns of Rajah 
Earn Mohun Eoy give tangible expression. And 
though originally composed by a man denounced 
as a heresiarch, they have become the favorite 
hymns of Hindu orthodoxy. They are, moreover, 
susceptible of a purely cleistic interpretation, and may 
be looked upon as connecting links between the 
ancient civilization of the country and those forms of 
modern thought which are being naturalized by English, 
education. They are therefore favorably received by 
those of our countrymen who, under the different de- 
nominations of Brahmos, Comtists, and spirit-rappers, 
construct religions via media between Hinduism, of 
which they are ashamed, and Christianity, which they 
regard with natural though unreasonable antipathy. 

The tunes utilized, by the Eajah are perhaps more in 
unison with prevailing taste than the subtle truths em- 
bodied in his hymns. The primitive sacred notes of 
Bengal, though pathetic and sweet, were becoming 
unfashionable when he commenced his career of relig- 
ious reform. The soothing melody and voice which 
accompanied songs in honor of the flirtations of Krishna 
with the milkmaids of Brindabun were being most un- 


accountably disliked by the progressive Bengalis of his 
day, while the pathetic metres which had for ages sweet- 
ened the effusions of orthodoxy were becoming the mo- 
nopoly of porters and wagon-drivers. Ram Mohun's sa- 
gacious eye did not fail to observe this change in our 
national taste ; and so, instead of choosing tunes which, 
though sweet, were devoid of sublimity, he adopted such 
as were lofty and elevating. He sailed with the tide, 
and though his hymns would perhaps lose in effect if sung 
by a regular choir, such as that of a Sankritan, they 
soothe and elevate the soul when plied by the modulat- 
ing voice of individual songsters. I need scarcely add 
that these tunes, though sublime, cannot be compared 
in elevation of voice or modulation of tone to the 
reverberating psalmody which animated the drooping 
courage of the Scottish Covenanters as they marched 
from their meeting-place to the battle-field, or the 
grand swell of the cathedral organ as it raises the ac- 
cording voices of a practised choir amid the dead but 
not unquestionable silence of those whose devotional 
feelings it is intended to guide. 

But though adorned with all that is novel and attrac- 
tive in thought, music, and song, these hymns are not 
destined to be popular, in the widest sense of the term, 
in Bengal. They embody truths which are too subtle 
and incomprehensible to the popular mind, and they 
present no character around which our thoughts and 
feelings may cluster. The virtues and vices of chiv- 
alry could never have been immortalized had they not 
been embodied and richly illustrated in King Arthur 
and his Knights of the Round Table. . The daring but 
romantic outlawry of the middle ages could not have 
been perpetuated had it not been personified in Robin 
Hood and his bold companions. A metaphysical ab- 


straction, however fitted it may be to gratify the soar- 
ing vanity of the human intellect, is not likely to be a 
central object of popular feeling and popular adora- 
tion. And it is such an abstraction that we find in 
these hymns shimmering and flashing like an electric 
current. They cannot therefore have anything like a 
permanent hold on the popular mind. They may suit 
the soaring aspirations of Anglicized Bengali gentle- 
men, and may be received with open arms in the meet- 
ing-houses of the Brahmos, but they cannot be 
regarded as part and parcel of the heritage of the 
Bengali nation. In this respect they are inferior to 
the popular songs of our country, which embody 
truths, useful, beneficent, and sublime, in characters 
whicli will never die, or die only with the entire frame- 
work of our social system. 

The filial piety and devotional earnestness of Ram, 
the modesty and meekness of Seeta, the enthusiasm of 
faith as personified in Prahlad, and the sublime abne- 
gation of self as illustrated in the sacrifice of Brishaketu 
— these, in spite of the absurdities with which they are 
mixed, are more likely to do good to the national mind 
and heart than the transcendental speculations of Rajah 
Ram Mohun Roy. And while these beautifully con- 
ceived and beautifully sustained characters have pre- 
vented the total shipwreck of our national morals con- 
sequent upon the demoralizing influences of ignorance 
and superstition, his hymns have hardly stood between 
temptation and sin in one case out of a thousand. 

"What a contrast between these songs and the 
hymnology of the Christian Church ! The Christian 
hymns do not embody truths too subtle to be appre- 
hended, too obscure to be clearly seen, too unsubstan- 
tial and shadowy to tell upon life and character. They 


present an ever-living, ever-near Saviour, glorious in 
holiness, fearful in praises, yet possessed of a nature 
similar to ours and therefore comprehensible by us ; 
mighty to save, full of loving-kindness and tender 
mercy, bearing our griefs and rejoicing in our joys, 
conducting us in triumph through the trials and vicissi- 
tudes of life, guiding our footsteps through the valley 
of the shadow" of death, and ultimately receiving us 
with open arms into the realms of light above. Here 
is no shadowy abstraction to plunge us headlong into 
the abyss of uncertainty and doubt, no deity figuring 
in a series of coarse and ignoble gallantries, no hero 
letting loose an army of baboons and apes against mon- 
sters of hideous features and giant strength, no incarna- 
tion, half man, half brute, exhausting his fiendish rage 
on the professors of a heterodox creed. Here is light 
in darkness, balm for the wounded spirit, manna for the 
hungry soul, liberty to the captives, rest unutterable to 
the weary and heavy laden. 

What, however, is the character of these hymns ? 
Are they bright and cheering, or gloomy and depress- 
ing ? Do they breathe the spirit of light and life and 
joy, or do they augment our wretchedness, intensify 
our sorrows, and deepen the darkness which overshad- 
ows us ? These are not trifling, unimportant ques- 
tions. The tree is known by its fruits. The nature 
and tendencies of a particular form of religion are 
clearly reflected as in a mirror in its hymnology. Is it 
calculated to support and cheer us under the poignant 
trials of life ? the spirit of love and joy glistens under 
its hymns. Is it fitted merely to thicken the surround- 
ing darkness and make confusion worse confounded ? 
the demon of uncertainty and ignorance frowns upon 
us from the inmost depths of the hymnology which has 


grown into maturity under its shade. Let us apply this 
unmistakable touchstone to the Rajah 5 s hymns. Let 
us see whether they are the off shoots of a religion such 
as irradiates our path through the pitfalls and quag- 
mires of life, alleviates its inevitable sorrows and mis- 
eries, and crowns it with joy and gladness ; or whether 
they are the murky brood of a philosophy which 
glories in confusion and chaos, and breeds all the dark 
features of a morose character. 

The predominant feature of these hymns is darkness. 
They depress instead of stirring up the lethargic soul, 
and soothe the feelings into a dead calm without charm- 
ing them into active play. Pensiveness and sorrow, 
melancholy musings and painful reflections are their 
fruits. Look at the hymn of which the following is a 
literal translation : 

"Whose art thou? Who is thine? Whom dost thou call thy 
own ? In the delusive sleep of earthly affection thou dreamest ! 
Birds of various kinds spend the night together on the same tree, 
but fly in different directions as soon as the day dawns. Thus be 
sure are thy friends and relations, who will fly away when thou 
needest their assistance, there being nothing to hinder them. 

" Where are thy perfumes and chaplets ? Where thy shining 
jewels? Where dost thou expect to find the very friends of thy 
bosom ? Where shall be thy wealth, youth, respect, and pride, when 
cruel death swallows thee up ?" 

Here is a picture of life, gloomy indeed, but by no 
means overdrawn as regards those whose hopes of hap- 
piness are confined to this world. Life a dream ! Its 
relationships, its energies, its activities, its toils, its 
pleasures, its amusements, its hopes, its anticipations, 
are all delusive as the mirage. This has been the lan- 
guage of what may be called world-inspired poetry 
from the beginning of days. The wisest man emerged 
from a course of extravagant folly to exclaim, 


"Vanity of vanities ! all is vanity." And many an 
individual, wise or foolish, lias raised from the inmost 
recesses of his heart that cry of a wounded spirit. 

But is there nothing to relieve the picture — nothing 
to hallow life into a solemn reality, a scene of useful 
toil and holy activity, a sphere of hopes which make 
not ashamed, and joys which are durable and perma- 
nent ? Look at these songs, and your answer to the 
question is, Nothing — alas ! nothing. Look at our 
Christian hymns, and the scene changes: darkness 
gives place to light, sorrow vanishes before joy, life 
becomes a sphere of toil, the results of which shall flow 
on in endless succession throughout eternity ; of tri- 
umphs fitted to display the unspeakable glory of God 
under the admiring gaze of worlds more numerous than 
the rustling leaves of the boundless forest. 

Let us now advert to the views of the life that is to 
come as embodied in these hymns. But a dead silence 
is all that we have to encounter here. Bam Mohun 
Boy the philosopher may descant with the acumen of 
a practised logician on the doctrine of annihilation or 
absorption in the deity, which is but another name for 
annihilation. But Bam Mohun Boy the poet does 
not perpetrate so big an outrage against human nature. 
He knows that a paradise of nonetity or death only less 
appalling than the unutterable horrors of perdition, 
however attractive it may be when presented behind a 
formidable array of syllogisms, is quite out of place 
among the charms of poetry, and he does well to 
refrain from uplifting the veil beyond which the mind, 
inspired by his reasonings, refuses to look forward. 
But though he adroitly passes over this cardinal doc- 
trine of his faith in his hymns, it casts its hideous 
shadow over them, and thickens the darkness which is 


their characteristic feature. Need I compare these 
songs with our Christian hymns in this respect ? While 
Ram Mohun Roy prevaricates, shifts, and shuffles, does 
everything but state the truth in all its nakedness, the 
Christian child sings in all the simplicity of childlike 

" There is a happy land, 
Far, far away ! 
Where saints in glory stand, 
Bright, bright as day !" 

Or the experienced Christian, softened into tears by a 
bright, Pisgah-iike view of the glories which eye hath 
not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered the heart 
of man to conceive, raises from the depths of his heart 
the jubilant song : 

; ' Jerusalem the golden, 

With milk and honey blest, 
Beneath thy contemplation, 
Sink heart and soul opprest. 

• ' I know not, oh, I know not 
What social joj^s are there ; 
What radiancy of glory, 

What bliss beyond compare. 

' They stand, those halls of Zion, 
Loud echoing with song ; 

And bright with many an angel, 
And many a martyr throng. 

There is the throne of David ; 

And there from pain released, 
The shout of them that triumph, 

The song of them that feast. 

And they beneath their leader 
Who conquered in the fight, 

Forever and forever, 

Are clad in robes of white." 

The views, moreover, of God embodied in these 
hymns are by no means cheering. God is represented 
as the Being of beings, the Light of our eyes, and the 
Life of our lives, pervading all space, embracing all 
substance, whispering in the breeze, warbling in the 
streamlet, dashing in the cascade, and thundering in 
the sea. All this is beautiful enough to garnish the 
effusions of poetry and the reasonings of a species of 
philosophy, which, unhappily, is making some progress 


in Christendom. Bnt there is a grossness about such 
descriptions of the Godhead which all the poetry and 
philosophy of the world cannot conceal from our view. 
To make material substances portions of the essence of 
God, to confound the Creator with the creature, is the 
easiest way of degrading God, is to make God a mon- 
strosity which frightens the imagination and paral} r zes 
the feelings. The Hindu monster, with his ten heads 
and twenty arms, moving on like hideousness itself, 
manifesting itself in Herculean stature and giant propor- 
tions, is not more disgusting than the God who now rat- 
tles in a flash of lightning from one end of the heavens 
to the other, and then lies in the shape of a huge boulder 
yawning over a mountain path. Then there is con- 
nected with Earn Mohun Roy's theory a fatalism which, 
based on uncontrollable laws of development, tends to 
make God a hard taskmaster and a ruffian. 

Again, because these hymns derive their inspiration 
from dark views of life and eternity, and views by no 
means cheering of God, the author of life, they are 
necessarily monstrous. The low notes of sorrow are 
the notes they raise. The human heart beats, in the 
well-known words of Longfellow, " Funeral inarches 
to the grave,' ' and they form the mournful procession 
moving slowly on amid all the gloomy tokens, not 
merely of grief, but of blank despair. Pleasant com- 
panions indeed through the dreary and howling wastes 
of life ! Oh for the rod of Moses to sweeten the 
Marah of Ram Mohun Roy's hymns ! " "Where hast 
thou brought me ?" he says. " What hast thou done ? 
In the fathomless ocean of life thou hast left me to be 
tossed to and fro. " Such is the picture of life apart 
from Christ ! Storms within, storms without, desires 
failing, hopes languishing, the agonizing tortures of 


memory crowding around, a black train of days mis- 
spent and hours wasted behind, the horrors of hell be- 
fore ! Christians ! come forward with the songs of 
your lips. There is balm in Gilead, and a Physician 
there. Look at your precious hymns. The inevitable 
sorrows of life, your own failings and shortcomings, do 
indeed give a sombre coloring to them. But beneath 
the thin coating of darkness attributable to the weak- 
ness of the flesh there shines the Sun of Righteousness, 
dispensing life and joy around. 

After what has been said it may seem unnecessary to 
affirm that the Eajah's hymns are not indications of a 
healthy and regenerated soul. Within their compass 
we shall in vain look for the yearnings of a renewed 
heart — that gratitude which words are too poor to de- 
scribe, that love which in its first outflowing leaves no 
part of the soul untouched, that eagerness to be free 
from the bondage of indwelling sin, those noble strug- 
gles toward spotless holiness, those hungerings and 
thirstings after a union the result of which is peace in 
this life and ineffable blessedness in that which is to 
come, those sorrows which end in gladness, those joys 
which flow on in a ceaseless, ever-expanding stream 
until engulfed in the illimitable ocean of heavenly 
felicity. Earn Mohun's songs embody the cry of 
nature, the moanings of distress, the shrieks of agony, 
the groans of despair. They are the cries of a man 
without hope, without G-od, unwilling to look into the 
depths of iniquity within, afraid to look forward ! 

The Christians' hymns have raised drooping spirits 
and animated desponding souls amid the sharpest trials 
of life. They have scared away the horrors of the 
battle-field, dispelled the gloom of the dungeon, and 
alleviated the agonies of the stake. They have 


softened the pillow of sickness, and extracted the sting 
out of death. They cheered the martyrs of old as they 
hung over the flames kindled by bigotry and hate, ani- 
mated Cromwell's Ironsides as they fought under the 
flag of religious toleration, consoled John Bunyan as, 
amid the hardships and privations of a prison cell, he 
garnered up those creations of genius which have made 
the world weep and laugh for nearly two centuries. 
Nay, they have sustained the "drooping soul amid bodily 
and mental tortures the most excruciating that can be 
imagined. The slave torn from his country, his rela- 
tions, and friends, compelled to toil for an iron-hearted 
villain, with the lash ever ready to force out the blood 
of his veins, and without a single ray of earthly hope, 
found in moments of unutterable agony rest for his 
troubled soul as 

' ' Loud lie sang the Psalm of David ! 
He a negro and enslaved — 
Sang of Israel's victory, 
Sang of .Zion, bright and free." 

Numerous instances can be brought forward to show 
that these hymns are calculated to light up the faded 
eye of sickness and dispel the gloom of a death-bed 
scene. One will suffice. Among the first fruits of the 
Free Church Mission in Bengal there were two con- 
verts, brothers beloved, whose earthly career, though 
short, was so bright that each of them being dead yet 
speaketh. They were sweet and pleasant in their lives, 
and in death they were not divided. One of them, 
Mohendra Babu, was distinguished by vigor of intellect 
and solidity of attainment rarely seen among the youth 
of India — nay, rarely seen among the youth of any 
country under the sun. He commenced his apostolic 
career with all the enthusiasm of a Peter or a Paul, and 


his rich, sonorous, and powerful voice was heard in the 
streets of Calcutta and in many a quiet village of 
Bengal, proclaiming the truth as it is in Jesus. But 
that noise was hushed ere its silver tones had mellowed 
into the gravity of age, and when lingering between 
life and death he assured Dr. Duff, the venerable 
Father of the Free Church in Bengal, that lie was not 
at all afraid of death, his only concern arising from the 
distressed condition in which he was leaving his wife 
and daughter. His friend and brother, Kailas Babu, 
was of a very different temperament, meek and lowly, 
resembling the disciple whom Jesus loved. Early pros- 
trated on the bed of sickness, from which he was never 
destined to rise, his only grief was that he was doing 
nothing for the Lord. " You are, dear brother, doing 
something for the Lord ; you are suffering for Him !" 
Such was the consolation ministered to him by the now 
sainted McDonald, whom he resembled in sweetness of 
disposition and simplicity of character. But the clouds 
thickened, and death appeared so palpably that it 
could not be mistaken. This was indeed a critical mo - 
ment. Did he repent of his apostasy from the Hindu 
faith ? Our Hindu friends generally represent us con- 
verts as doing nothing but perpetually mourning over 
the rash step we have taken in embracing a foreign 
religion. We may assure them that we never for a mo- 
ment do so. We do mourn over the follies we have 
perpetrated after conversion, over the bad examples we 
have set, over the little we have done to set forth the 
excellency of our religion ; but we never, even in our 
dreams, recall the fact of our being separated from 
Hinduism but with lively emotions of gratitude. In 
the stillness of the night, when deep sleep cometh upon 
us, we frequently revisit the homes from which we 


have been thrust out, see around us the bright faces 
which once hung over us with all the yearnings of 
tender affection, and live once more the sunny days of 
our childhood. But we say the truth in Christ Jesus, 
we lie not, our consciences also bearing witness that we 
have not even in our dreams bowed the knee before a 
god or goddess of the Hindu pantheon ; we have not 
even in our dreams wavered in our conviction that 
there is none other name under heaven whereby men 
can be saved except the name we adore. 

Excuse this digression. Kailas Babu found death 
staring him in the face, with a young and affectionate 
wife weeping by his bed. The scene was indeed 
gloomy. But light burst in and kindled his faded eye 
and brightened his stiffening features as he repeated 
the hymn : 

" The hour of my departure's come, 
I hear the voice that calls me home. 
Now, O my God ! let trouble cease, 
And let Thy servant die in peace. 

" The race appointed I have run, 
The combat's o'er, the prize is won ; 
And now my witness is on high, 
And now my record's in the sky. 

" Not in my innocence I trust, 
I bow before Thee in the dust ; 
And through my Saviour's blood alone 
I look for mercy at Thy throne. 

" I come, I come without a tear, 
Save for the friends I hold so dear ; 
To heal their sorrow, Lord, descend, 
And to the friendless prove a friend." 




It sometimes does us good to begin at the root and 
work upward ; and so let me raise the question, What 
is an aspiration ? An aspiration may be legitimately 
defined as a desire upward. Men in this world are 
animated and influenced by various classes of desires. 
These, however, may all be classed under two heads — 
desires upward and desires downward, desires which 
lead to our improvement and those which lead to our 
degradation. The latter class of our desires, viz. , the 
class embracing those which lead to our degradation, 
cannot with any degree of propriety be called aspira- 
tions, and therefore with them I have nothing to do 
this evening. 

Nor is it my intention to treat of all classes of your 
aspirations. You have, for instance, your political 
aspirations, and you most naturally and most properly 
wish to see the middle wall of partition between your- 
selves and the members of the ruling class broken 


* The above is given in the form of a lecture rather than an essay, 
to show the sort of discourses given in India for the benefit of its 
educated, English-speaking native inhabitants, by those who are 
aware that a learned and a systematically thought-out discourse is 
sure to be wasted on them. — R. G. B. 

208 BRAHM01SM. 

down, and yourselves raised to the position of influence 
and affluence occupied by them. In this wish of 
yours, as a native of India and one of yourselves, I 
most cordially sympathize ; and to all legitimate efforts 
put forward toward the attainment of this lofty status 
I heartily bid God-speed. But with your political 
aspirations I have nothing to do this evening. Then 
you have your educational aspirations. You wish most 
naturally and most properly to see carried out in your 
country a system of education fitted to raise you intel- 
lectually not a little above yourselves, but up to the 
very level of those who at present are tempted to look 
down upon you. In this wish of yours, a countryman 
of yours, and one of yourselves, I most cordially sympa- 
thize, and to all legitimate efforts put forward in this 
line of our national improvement I cannot but bid God- 
speed ! But with your educational aspirations I have 
nothing to do this evening. "Nor have I this evening 
anything to do with those of your aspirations which 
have for their object } r our rise in civilization and 
glory, though there is no one in this meeting more 
ready to sympathize with } r ou in them. 

I have to take notice of and express my deep sym- 
pathy in your religious aspirations. These are em- 
bodied in the principles, the creed, the constitution, 
and the operations of the Sadharan Brahmo Somaj, a 
Somaj resting, in our humble opinion, on a basis more 
rational by far than that of the ~New Dispensationists. 
The watchwords of this Somaj embody the moral and 
religious aspirations of young India. These are : 
(1) Independence of Thought, (2) Catholicity of Spirit, 
(3) Immediacy, and (-1) Spirituality. Of these battle- 
cries of the Sadharan Brahmo Somaj we shall take 
notice as embodying not merely the principles it is 


fighting for, but the religious aspirations of our edu- 
cated countrymen in general. 

1. The first of these cries is Independence of Thought. 
You most naturally wish and pray for this blessing. 
The country has but too long groaned under supersti- 
tion and error, kingcraft and priestcraft, temporal and 
spiritual tyranny of the most galling type. The coun- 
try has for ages and ages untold been bowing to human 
authority. You have to a great extent been liberated 
from its trammels, and you most naturally wish for 
independence of thought. And let me assure you that 
we, Christian preachers, deeply sympathize in this wish 
of yours. Far from opposing it, we look upon it as a 
praiseworthy aspiration and a harbinger of real prog- 
ress under proper guidance. 

Do you, however, pause and inquire in what does 
true independence of thought consist ? Pray remember 
that genuine independence of thought does not consist 
in its being absolutely free. Absolute freedom of 
thought is unattainable, and would be a curse to us were 
it attainable. Your thought cannot possibly be free 
from all control. It must either be under right control 
or wrong control, under proper guidance or improper 
guidance. Emancipated from all control or guidance, 
perfectly uncontrolled and unguided it cannot possibly 
be in its present condition, perhaps under all conceiv- 
able circumstances. 

Let me illustrate this by an example. The legiti- 
mate sovereign of the human heart is God. When 
God is allowed to rule in it, all its affections and pas- 
sions, inclinations and tendencies, desires and aspira- 
tions are properly developed and properly directed, and 
there is harmony within. But if God is thrust out of 
the throne of the heart, it is by no means left uncon- 


trolled and unguided. Sin takes His place, and, under 
the control of the monster, all its powers and suscepti- 
bilities are improperly developed and misdirected. The 
result is disharmony and disquietude. The heart can- 
not possibly be left freed from all control, good or bad, 
emancipated from all guidance, right or wrong. Or, in 
other words, the heart cannot be neutral, moved neither 
by good nor by bad feelings, hanging between loyalty 
and disloyalty to God, its legitimate Sovereign. 

In the same way the mind cannot be left entirely 
uncontrolled, emancipated from all guidance, right or 
wrong. The legitimate sovereign of the mind is truth, 
and its independence consists in its being placed under 
the guidance of truth, not in its being left uncontrolled 
and unguided, even if such a mental state were possi- 
ble. When the mind is under the guidance of truth, 
its legitimate sovereign, all its faculties and powers are 
properly developed and properly directed, and there is 
harmony within it. But when truth is thrust out of 
the throne of the mind it is not left uncontrolled, for 
error takes its place and begins the domination, the 
result of which is disharmony and disorder. Under 
the guidance of error all the noble faculties of the mind 
are improperly developed and sadly misdirected. 
Thought is ennobled and exalted under the control of 
truth, degraded and debased under the dominance of 
error. Independence of thought therefore consists in 
its being emancipated from wrong control and placed 
under right control, liberated from error and placed 
under the guidance of truth. 

But what is truth, or the truth ? Christ calls Himself 
the truth, the truth embodied, personified, concentrated 
and exemplified. He emphatically claims Divinity 
when He says, " I am the Truth !" You may be dis- 


posed to question such a claim ; but you will not object 
to my calling God the truth in the sense in which 
Christ represented Himself as the truth. God then is 
the legitimate sovereign of the human mind as well as 
the human heart, and independence of thought consists 
in its being freed from the control of error and placed 
under the control of God Himself. In God then does 
your thought find its highest liberty ! 

Please remember that your thought finds its highest 
expansion in God. We see in this world an endless 
chain of truths fitted to enlarge and ennoble our minds, 
rising from the lowest of created objects up to the very 
throne of the Creator. Each link of truth in this all- 
comprehensive chain is sure, when rightly apprehended , 
to expand our minds ; and the higher we ascend in our 
apprehension of the successive links of this chain, the 
greater the expansion. And certainly, when We leave 
the chain of created objects behind us, and meditate on 
the varied attributes of the Creator — on His infinite 
justice and unbounded love, as well as on His matchless 
power and unerring wisdom — we feebly attempt to 
grasp what is fitted to lead the mind to the highest 
stages of development. In God then the mind finds 
not only its noblest freedom, but its highest expansion. 

Please remember also that your thought finds its last 
resting-place in God. You cannot possibly confine 
yourself to the work of registering the phenomena of 
which you cannot but be cognizant. The impulse that 
leads you to such registration leads you a step farther 
— leads you to throw aside the veil of phenomena and 
observe the occult forces at work behind them. It is 
possible to proscribe metaphysical inquiry, but it is im- 
possible to keep the human mind from rushing toward 
such investigation. Again, the same necessity of the 


intellect that leads you to the region of metaphysical 
forces leads you a step*' farther — leads you to recognize 
the unseen spirit that guides these hidden and indefin- 
able powers of nature. But when you have reached 
this terminus your mind rests. You never think of 
going or pushing your research beyond the Almighty. 
In God does your vagrant thought find its abiding rest. 
Again, your path in this world is beset with enigmas 
and mysteries, with problems you cannot solve, and 
riddles you cannot unriddle. For instance, you cannot 
possibly reconcile absolute foreknowledge on the part 
of God to your own responsibility ; the sovereignty of 
the Creator to the free agency of a rational creature 
like yourself. But in all such matters, where you can- 
not explain you can trust. Your thought in its soaring 
flight gets wearied and finds an abiding resting place 
in God. 

Now we, Christian preachers, do not ask you to bow 
to human authority — the authority of .missionaries and 
chaplains, of bishops and archbishops, of popes and 
councils. We simply exhort you to bow to the author- 
ity of God, your Creator and Preserver, your Sovereign 
and Judge, not to say your Father in heaven. The 
Brahmo comes to you with a string of his opinions, 
which he may dignify by means of specious names, 
such as intuitions, primary convictions, ultimate princi- 
ples of faith, etc. But they are, barring a few funda- 
mental truths which are by no means enough to land 
us where peace with God and holiness of character are 
attainable, his opinions, and as such they are to be 
adopted only when they accord with our convictions. 
But we come to you armed with the Word of God, 
which rests on evidence which you cannot dispassion- 
ately examine without being convinced of its conclu- 


siveness. And we call upon yon to build your faith on 
this rock, which the gates of hell cannot shake. Do we 
not encourage your longing for freedom of thought ? 

2. The second watchword of the Sadharan Brahmo 
Somaj is Catholicity of Spirit. Your wish for this ex- 
cellency is most natural. The religion of this country 
is perhaps the most exclusive system ever elaborated 
by man, and its life is perpetual, ceaseless depletion. 
Yigor is daily and hourly flowing out of its huge body, 
and fresh accession of strength is impossible to it. Its 
exclusiveness is therefore the most fruitful source of its 
dissolution, and the time is not far distant when the 
entire framework will come down with a tremendous 
crash. You have to a great extent emancipated your- 
self from its spirit of exclusiveness, and you most natu- 
rally wish for catholicity of spirit as well as indepen- 
dence of thought. And let me assure you that we 
most cordially sympathize with you in this aspiration 
of your hearts. 

Of course it is the fashion to represent us as exceed- 
ingly narrow-minded and exclusive. But it is not at all 
difficult for us to prove that we are far more liberal- 
minded and far less exclusive than the friends who are 
never tired of accusing us of bigotry and exclusiveness. 
Do these persons maintain that there are elements of 
truth to be found in one and all the religions of the 
world ? So do we ! Do they maintain that these 
precious elements of truth ought not to be despised be- 
cause they are buried under heaps of error ? So do we ! 
In what sense then are we more exclusive than they ? 

We maintain, without the slightest equivocation, 
that precious elements of truth are to be found in all 
the religions of the world, present or past. Nay, we 
go a step farther and affirm that they could not possi- 


bly have spread if they had not such elements of truth 
imbedded in them. A system of unmixed error has no 
chance of success even in this sin-laden world. If there 
were a religion invented without the slightest tinge of 
truth in it, men, sinful though they confessedly are, 
would recoil from it in horror, and it would he still- 
born. The very fact that the religions of the world 
have each secured the homage of masses of human 
beings is a proof that they are not systems of unmiti- 
gated error. 

Thus far, then, we are most willing to go with our 
accusers. But we most emphatically deny that it is 
possible for a sinful man to separate these elements of 
truth from the heaps of error under which they lie 
buried, and construct them into a system of unmixed 
truth. Man in his present condition has his judgment 
warped and his heart vitiated by sin, and he cannot 
discriminate between truth and error with infallible 
precision or unquestionable certitude. He cannot in all 
cases separate truth from error and build up a system 
of unalloyed truth. And when a sinful man like Babu 
Keshub Chunder Sen affirms that he is to take the 
cream out of every system of religious faith and elabo- 
rate a creed of absolute truth freed from the slightest 
touch of error, we cannot but regard his pretensions 
with suspicion and distrust. 

The body of truths found in the religions of the 
world is presented much more clearly and much more 
authoritatively in our sacred Scriptures. "We adopt this 
inferior body of truths, and are therefore not obnoxious 
to the charge of narrow-mindedness and exclusiveness 
so recklessly preferred against us. But we do some- 
thing more. We adopt that higher body of truths to 
which they obstinately refuse to listen, though these 


are attested by evidence of the most conclusive char- 

A great German theologian represents heathenism as 
the seeking religion, and Judaism as the hoping religion. 
You will perhaps need a little explanation to enable you 
to grasp the ideas imbedded in these expressions. 
There are certain questions, appertaining specially to 
the welfare of our undying souls, which we cannot help 
raising or taking into our most serious consideration. 
Is there a God ? Does He take a deep interest in our 
affairs ? Is He willing to receive us back to His family 
on earth, to the Fold of which He is the Shepherd ? 
Is He willing to pardon our sins and deliver us from 
their dominating influence ? Is He willing to guide us 
through the vexations and trials of life ? These ques- 
tions force themselves on our attention, and we can no 
more get rid of them entirely than we can get rid of 
our being. It is possible for us to bury them under our 
secular aspirations and under specious theories ; but as 
they are suggested by the very conditions of our being, 
they cannot possibly be got rid of entirely. 

Heathenism raises these all-important questions ; but 
Heathenism does not solve them. Doubts and fears 
are heaped up in its path, and certainty in religious 
matters is a thing almost if not wholly unknown. The 
existence of a God of some indefinable kind is certainly 
admitted, but His feelings toward us are dubiously, or 
rather wrongly, interpreted ; and we are left in uncer- 
tainty as to His willingness to extend to us all the help 
of which, in our present deplorable condition, we so 
obviously stand in need. 

Judaism advances a step farther. It raises the self- 
same questions, and it does not solve them thoroughly. 
But with prophetic certainty it points to a time when they 


will in the course of providence be satisfactorily solved. 
Judaism has what Heathenism lacks — a prophetic 
significance as well as a present efficacy — and its sub- 
lime uniqueness, not to speak of its higher excellences, 
is itself a proof of its divine origin. 

Christianity solves these mighty problems, and solves 
them in a glorious Personality rather than in a revealed 
body of solutions. Christianity is summed up in 
Christ, and in Christ these problems, which have per- 
plexed for ages untold the loftiest minds the world has 
seen, are solved, and that most satisfactorily. Is there 
a God ? Christ is God Incarnate, the brightness of 
God's glory, the express image of His person. Does 
He take a deep interest in our affairs ? Christ is the 
highest expression of the unspeakably profound interest 
He takes in our affairs. Does He love us ? God so 
loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, 
that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but 
have everlasting life. Is He willing to accept and bless 
us ? Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy- 
laden, and I will give you rest. Is He willing to guide us 
through the vexations and trials of life ? I am the Good 
Shepherd. The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the 
sheep. I will never leave thee — I will never forsake thee. 
These all-important problems are solved, as they have 
never been, in Christ Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. 

We Christians go all lengths with our detractors in 
adopting the inferior body of truth found in all the 
religions of the world. But we advance a step farther 
— we adopt the higher body of truth embodied in Jesus 
Christ. Are we not more catholic than they are ? 
Have we not better reason to bring a charge of narrow- 
mindedness and exclusiveness against them than they 
have to bring such charge against us ? 


At all events, let me assure you that we deeply sym- 
pathize with you in your longing for breadth of view 
and catholicity of spirit. But beware, my friends, that 
this noble longing may not degenerate into mere senti- 
mentalism — a morbid sentimentalism that refuses to 
discriminate between truth and error, and glories in 
constructing a system of heterogeneous elements, pre- 
senting an odd mixture of sound doctrine and false 
theory, of chaste principle and wild speculation, of 
grovelling fetichism and sublime monotheism ! 

3. The third watchword of the Sadharan Brahmo 
Somaj is Immediacy. This involves the denial, per- 
emptory and unequivocal, of the doctrine of mediation. 
To nothing are our educated countrymen more thor- 
oughly opposed than to this universally received doc- 
trine ; and their opposition cannot bat appear at first 
sight natural. The array of mediators presented in the 
national pantheon are as a rule types of vice and crimi- 
nality ; and one cannot contemplate the disgusting 
forms of degradation they conjure up without a perfect 
revulsion of feeling. A reaction, therefore, against the 
doctrine so ludicrously travestied is on their part natu- 
ral ; nor can we indulge in unmitigated condemnation 
when we see them carried by it from one extreme to the 
other, from a gross abuse and parody of the doctrine of 
mediation to a complete denial of it. 

What is the gist of their objections to this doctrine ? 
They are often heard speaking in this strain : Why 
should we go to an inferior being when we can approach 
God direct ? Why should we go to his Excellency's 
private secretary when we can go to the Yiceroy 
direct ? We need not pause to affirm that in such dec- 
larations our friends assume the very point to be proved, 
viz. , that they can approach God direct. Nor do we 


stop to affirm that if they had only approximately 
adequate views of their own sinfulness, they would not 
speak in this reckless style. But we do affirm that 
their objections to the doctrine of mediation lose all 
their force as soon as they are applied to the Lord 
Jesus Christ ? Christ is a divine Mediator, and ap- 
proaching Him is approaching God direct ! If Christ 
were a human being, like Socrates or Yyas or Nanak 
or Chaitanya or Babu Keshub Chunder Sen, these 
objections might legitimately be applied to Him, and 
approach to God through Him deprecated. But Christ 
being God- Incarnate, the Creator of the heavens and 
the earth, the Lord of lords and the God of gods, these 
objections lose their force as soon as they are applied to 

Approaching Christ is in reality approaching God. 
Christ has brought God down to the level of our com- 
prehension ; has presented God in the only form in 
which we can possibly know, love, and serve Him. An 
ordinary illustration will make this clear. Suppose the 
sun is eclipsed, and a person wishes to see what portion of 
the glorious disk is darkened. What does he do ? He 
knows he cannot lift up his eye toward the sun and 
gaze upon it without being dazzled into blindness. He 
therefore stains a piece of glass, and through it gazes 
upon the luminary, and observes the portion of it 
eclipsed. The stained glass is a softening medium, and 
through it the effulgence of the sun reaches the eye 
softened, and does not therefore dazzle it into blind- 
ness. In the same manner the glory of God comes to 
us softened through Christ, and does not therefore 
dazzle and overpower us. Christ is, properly speak- 
ing, God to us, and therefore approaching Him is 
approaching God direct. And consequently your wish 


for immediacy is also encouraged, properly speaking, 
by our holy religion. 

4. And lastly, you ardently long for Spirituality, 
which is the fourth and last battle-cry of the Sadharan 
Brahmo Somaj. ]No wonder ! The religion of the 
country has for ages been a system of pure external] sm, 
a religion of dead forms and lifeless observances. 
Under its influence the smallest things are tithed, and 
the weightier matters of law and judgment are laid 
aside. Formality is idolized, morality is cast over- 
board, and the unspeakable blessings of heart-religion 
are extinguished by a round of ceremonial observances, 
the significance of which is not perceived, and the 
efficacy of which is therefore simply nil. From this 
mass of externalism you naturally recoil, and you 
ardently wish for a system of religion more spiritual by 
far. And in this wish of yours we, Christian preach- 
ers, cannot but deeply sympathize. But you are in 
danger of being carried to the other extreme, even by a 
natural reaction against dead formalism. You are in 
danger of wishing for a religion thoroughly and exclu- 
sively spiritual, a religion free from all forms. We are 
of course willing to admit that Christianity is not such 
a religion. It is spiritual indeed, but it is not exclu- 
sively spiritual — it is not free from all forms. It would 
not be suited to our present circumstances if it were 
so. We are dualistic, composed of bodies and souls ; 
and the religion we need must be dualistic, or have a 
body and a soul. A religion free from the slightest 
touch of formality might be adapted to benefit angelic 
intelligences, but it would be out of place in this world. 

A great writer says that every spiritual idea in the 
world tends to corporeity, or to appear in a bodily 
form. An illustration or two will make this clear. 


Here is a painter who has a nice picture in his head. 
He is naturally impelled to transfer that picture from 
his head to the canvas. The picture cannot receive all 
the finish of which it is capable without such trans- 
ference, nor can it exert a reflex influence of a salutary 
nature over the painter himself, and a direct influence 
of such character over the world at large, so long as it 
remains concealed in the dark chambers of his mind. 
J$o wonder then that he is anxious to give it a tangible 
and visible shape, and not to allow it to perish in its 
embryonic state among the abortive creations of his 
mind. Again, take the case of an architect who has a 
grand idea in his mind. He most naturally wishes to 
see that idea embodied in brick and mortar. "Why ? 
Because he believes that the idea cannot receive all the 
finish of which it is susceptible, and do good to himself 
and the world at large, till it is thus embodied. Once 
more, let us take the case of a man penetrated with 
missionary enthusiasm, a desire to spread truth and 
root out error. He is naturally led to communicate 
that desire, through the medium of what may be called 
personal magnetism, to a number of select friends. The 
desire is then embodied in a committee, and when thus 
embodied it does good to him, his associates, and the 
world at large. Had the spiritual idea in each of these 
cases not tended to corporeity, what would have been 
the consequence ? It would not have approximated 
perfection, would not have done good to the originator, 
and would not have benefited mankind at large. We 
are therefore so constituted that our spiritual ideas 
tend to corporeity or appear in visible shapes. 

If we have the religious feelings stirred up within us 
by a vivid presentation of facts fitted to stimulate 
them, they will tend to appear in tangible and visible 


forms. If we have, for instance, genuine penitence 
stirred up by a view somewhat adequate of our sinful- 
ness coupled with that of God's unspeakable love, it 
will manifest itself in confessions and tears. If we 
have our gratitude to God stimulated by a considera- 
tion of our own unworthiness, and the innumerable 
blessings, both temporal and spiritual, with which we 
have been favored during our past lives, it will mani- 
fest itself in the language of praise and thanksgiving. 
And lastly, when the love of God, begotten by an 
overpowering exhibition of His infinite though unmer- 
ited love toward us, reigns in the soul, it will manifest 
itself in appropriate acts of worship as well as in a life of 
loyalty and obedience. And therefore forms of religion 
are in our present condition unavoidable, when we have 
the substance of it. Those who denounce forms in the 
most sweeping manner have no religion in their hearts. 
~Nov is it necessary or proper for us to denounce all 
forms. There are forms which are dead, and there are 
forms which are living. There are forms with sub- 
stance, and forms without substance. It is certainly 
necessary to denounce dead forms and meaningless 
mummeries, because they degrade the mind and enslave 
the spirit. But living forms — forms which indicate the 
life of religion in the soul — have no such consequences, 
and ought not therefore to be run down. The, human 
body is honored so long as it is animated by the soul ; 
but when the vital spirit goes out it becomes a dead 
corpse, and is in consequence thrown aside. In the 
same manner forms of religion animated by the soul of 
religion are sources of improvement and should not be 
set aside. But when they are dead or become mean- 
ingless mimicries and tomfooleries, the best thing you 
can do with them is to get rid of them. 

222 BRAHMOisar." 

In Christianity, then, all the religious aspirations of 
Young India have their legitimate gratification or ful- 
filment. They are not realized in Brahmoism, which 
really, if not ostensibly, demands homage to human 
authority, lacks catholicity enough to adopt and assim- 
ilate to itself the higher body of truth revealed in the 
Word of God, refuses to look upon approach to Christ 
as approach direct to God, and either abandons itself 
to a series of mummeries and tomfooleries, as in the 
case of the New .Dispensationists, or shows a tendency 
to denounce all forms, living or dead, as in the case of 
the Sadharan Brahmo Somaj. We are justified, then, 
in affirming that the religious aspirations of Young 
India are realized in Christianity, and Christianity 
alone ! 

Let us conclude with the remark that these aspira- 
tions are by no means the highest aspirations of your 
undying souls. You have longings deeper and yearn- 
ings higher than these, and these are also satisfied in 
our holy religion. You long for light — such knowledge 
of Gocl as elicits your faith, trust, and confidence — and 
your longing for light is nowhere satisfied so thor- 
oughly as in Christianity or Christ, who is the Light 
of the World. You are troubled by a deep sense of 
your guilt, and you naturally long for pardon ; and 
Christianity comes to you with an assurance of God's 
pardoning mercy. You are moreover troubled by 
indwelling sin, of which unaided you can never get rid, 
and Christianity comes to you with the regenerating 
and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit. You 
long for guidance, and some reliable intimations about 
the world toward which you are going, and these are 
secured to you by our holy religion. All the noblest 
yearnings of your souls are satisfied in Christianity ! 

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